Opposition targets UPDF, police
The opposition thinks to cause regime change, the army and police have to be on their side. An investigation by the opposition has concluded that even if all anti-NRM forces decided to work together, “they cannot cause regime change without allying with other key national and international players.” Jolted by this reality, the opposition has agreed a number of strategies ahead of the 2016 elections. They include forging alliances with “emerging voices of reason, goodwill and progress” within the UPDF, police and security services and, courting progressives inside NRM and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations and other multinational organisations.
But Army Spokesperson Paddy Ankunda said at the weekend that although it is not “new” that the opposition has always wanted to associate itself with the men in uniform, the UPDF remained “non-partisan”.
“The army cannot be part of those plans. We are non-partisan, and we shall remain so. We serve all Ugandans, not interests of a few people,” he said. “They are dreaming.”
According to the draft report, a copy of which The Observer has seen, opposition parties have resolved to establish a new framework for the Inter-Party Cooperation, to consolidate national and international support for regime change. They also plan to pool resources together to neutralise what they call, “the widely-reported, but unlikely event of a change of power from President Museveni to his son Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba, commander of the Special Forces Command.”
Before he left Uganda, Gen David Sejusa had demanded an investigation related to what has come to be known as the ‘Muhoozi project’. The government denies this alleged plot to groom Muhoozi for the presidency.
However, two high-profile opposition meetings comprising all party leaders held at Uganda House, the headquarters of the opposition UPC, commissioned a committee to investigate and, report on how best, the weakening opposition especially after the exit of Dr Kizza Besigye can face-off with President Museveni, who looks determined to stand in 2016.
According to sources, on April 5, 2013, the political leaders of DP, JEEMA, SDP, FDC and UPC met at Uganda House. It was a follow-up of an earlier meeting held on March 25, 2013. Both meetings assessed the present challenges, and agreed that there was need for regular contact, consultations and engagement, to explore the possibility of cooperation.
To enhance these regular meetings, a committee was set up, consisting of Michael Mabikke (formerly SDP), Omar Kalinge Nyango (JEEMA), Okello Lucima (UPC), James Kalija (FDC) and Deo Njoki (DP).
“The committee was set up to examine the 2011 opposition election alliance and all factors that challenged its viability and also submit to political parties, recommendations on how fresh cooperation can be best construed,” a source told us.
The Observer has since seen a copy of the committee report that found among other things; that, “a united opposition cannot cause regime change” without allying with other forces.
Talk to UPDF, police
Opposition forces argue they can no longer afford to keep “an arms-length” relationship with the UPDF, police and security forces.
“It is no longer tenable to refer to these institutions as ‘Museveni’s army and police’. In consolidating support for regime change, the opposition needs to make a strategic alliance with UPDF, police and security agencies in order to neutralise the negative military factor in politics,” the 18-page report states.
[Police blocks opposition MPs, Moses Kasibante and Ssemujju Nganda from holding a rally in Kireka having already sprayed them with liquid teargas ]
Police blocks opposition MPs, Moses Kasibante and Ssemujju Nganda from holding a rally in Kireka having already sprayed them with liquid teargas
The security forces are to be seen as allies rather than enemies because, “they too suffer the same ills and abuse as other ordinary Ugandans do; namely, poor pay, poor housing, and poor education and health services.”
“The UPDF and police are part of the least paid professionals. The opposition must build confidence and assure this constituency that, working conditions can be better under a new government,” the report says.
The report also recommends that the opposition must initiate linkages with the voices of reason within the ruling NRM and also embark on a reachout strategy to the recently expelled NRM MPs—Banarbas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga West), Muhammad Nsereko (Kampala central), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa West) and Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga).
“There must be a realisation that the most effective opposition force to the regime today is inside the NRM,” the report states.
But NRM Spokeswoman and Minister of Gender Mary Karooro Okurut told The Observer that the opposition was chasing a wild goose, in trying to recruit from NRM.
“It is a futile attempt. They will not manage to get anybody from NRM. NRM members don’t want to even leave the party. You remember Theodore Ssekikubo said that he doesn’t want to leave the party,” she said.
The opposition is also keeping an eye on NATO nations and the East African Community member-countries—with a view of getting possible allies.
“One of the key obstructions to regime change in Uganda is the interest of NATO nations. The fight against terror in the Horn of Africa, together with other economic and security interests in the Great Lakes region, supersede NATO’s pretentions to promote functional democracies,” the reports states.
But to achieve this, the opposition believes that a new Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) must be fast-tracked—contrary to the 2007 conglomeration that they say, was “foreign-conceived” and not “well- rooted among the founding political parties.”
To achieve this new cooperation, the report recommends the implementation of “a mix of reforms and actions that will restore trust and confidence in order to improve performance.”
The first reform is to ensure that IPC protocols that are “characterised by a weak legal and regulatory framework”, are amended or revised so that they “fully bind constituent parties to obligations therein.”
According to Makerere University History don, Mwambutsya Ndebesa, for the ‘new’ IPC to work, there must be “minimum principles” set so that the “coalitionism” spirit remains intact.
“Politics is both ideological and practical. I don’t think they have an ideological thread that ties them together,” Ndebesa said last week.
Ndebesa applauded their new strategy, if the parties can agree on “common values and software of understanding their coalitionism spirit, because the meeting of minds is very critical for such a campaign to work.”
The Observer has learnt that part of the implementation of the strategy involves penetrating Parliament as a wider strategy to re-ignite debate on the constitutional amendments, especially the Electoral Commission.
“On Tuesday [June 4], opposition party leaders headed by UPC President Olara Otunnu, [met MPs]at Uganda House. The MPs in attendance were all opposition party chief whips,” a source said.
During the meeting, the party chief whips were told to pile pressure on government so that reforms in the electoral commission composition are brought back on the agenda. It was also resolved that the opposition cohesion in parliament should be harnessed.
Bukenya, Sejusa factor
The other concept that the opposition have discussed is that of not antagonising Gen David Sejusa and Busiro North MP and ex vice president, Prof Gilbert Bukenya in their endeavours to take on Museveni. Sources say the opposition party leaders believe that if Bukenya and Sejusa break away from NRM, they will not only weaken it, but also, go with some vital actors in the ruling party.
“By leaving the core NRM politics to these two camps, Museveni will be isolated and his party weakened to a certain extent,” a source said.
Written by David Tash Lumu