KAMPALA – The Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has said they will not attend the May 15 Inter-party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) Summit in Lira District over what they described as the continuing violation of their rights to assemble and hold rallies by the army.
FDC, which in November shunned the first IPOD summit attended by President Museveni over the same reasons, have now resolved not to attend. IPOD, which brings together political parties represented in parliament, is funded by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD).
Addressing journalists at their office in Najjanankumbi near Kampala on Monday, FDC party spokesman Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said the political situation has even got worse.
“The FDC will not attend the Wednesday, May 15, 2019 IPOD Summit in Lira because conditions that prevented us from attending the December 2018 Summit have not changed. We are still under siege by various security agencies. Our legitimate rights to associate and assemble are still curtailed and the situation has even gotten worse. We cannot speak to lower FDC leaders on whose behalf we transact business. Who therefore shall we be representing at these summits?,” he said.
Mr Ssemujju said there is no favourable atmosphere in the country for a meaningful dialogue.
“There is no favourable atmosphere in the country for a meaningful dialogue. We call upon religious leaders and the Elders who are organizing similar engagements not to engage in futility. We have agreed and processed both political and constitutional reforms as IPOD members before and the NRM said there was no time to process them. Five years later, these reforms are not being processed. Instead, the NRM and its chairman have forcefully and illegally changed the Constitution to remove yet another safeguard against life presidency,” he said.
“Restoration of citizens’ rights and freedoms in a more urgent matter than socialization events in big hotels. The FDC will continue carrying out mobilization and sensitization of citizens,” he added.
The party’s decision comes amid ongoing police suppression of their rallies upcountry. FDC leaders have not been allowed to hold rallies or even appear on radio stations. Police insist that the opposition party is disobeying the Public Order Management Act on the conduct of rallies.
Mr Ssemujju on Monday said they will continue with their upcountry rallies even when police continue to block them.
“As announced earlier, the FDC and People’s Government will visit Kalangala and Buvuma this week. We will begin with Kalangala on Wednesday and Buvuma on Friday. Last week Police and UPDF blocked our meeting in Buikwe and as has become the practice fired bullets and teargas at citizens in Lugazi. We intend to return to Lugazi and other areas of Buikwe later,” he said.
“Police and military also cordoned off the FDC headquarters over the weekend and held our leaders captive during a meeting with Lubaga district. Nobody was allowed to leave until after seven. We condemn these abuses and we shall hold the commanders of these operations responsible,” he added.
FDC has also welcomed the cooperation with the People Power movement led by Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.
Last week, FDC’s Peoples Government (PG) and People Power announced through their official spokespersons that they will be cooperating on a number of issues aimed at removing hurdles stopping citizens from exercising their political and other rights.
“The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) welcomes and embraces this cooperation. Historically, the FDC has pursued cooperation with all democracy seeking forces. In fact the FDC herself, is a union of different political formations i.e. PAFO, Reform Agenda and National Democratic Forum (NDF). We were the champion of the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) a joint opposition forces electoral platform in 2011 and most recently The Democratic Alliance (TDA),” he said.
“We are happy, People Power having suffered the brunt of the dictatorship recently, now also see the need to rally citizens to reclaim their power and rights first, before engaging in elections. That is the campaign under the DEFIANCE label that we are engaged in. This campaign aims at sensitizing citizens about their individual vulnerability and collective strength to overcome it. Citizens are mobilized and empowered to rise up against wanton abuse of their resources and their rights. They are also taught and led in various campaigns to reclaim their power,” he added.