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Mafabi Attacks DP, UPC As Opposition Split Deepens

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approved geneva;”>Mafabi described DP and UPC as power hungry parties which are in bed with the ruling NRM party.

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“If this action by DP and UPC was not an abuse of trust and unprincipled hunger for political office and its trappings what else could it be?” Mafabi told press in Kampala on Monday.

“If the actions of DP and UPC were not an indirect show of support to the NRM while ditching the unity forged by the opposition, what then was it? If this was not a case of preaching water by day but gulping wine in the night by DP and UPC, what then was it?” he wondered.

Mafabi’s statements came just a few days after firing the two parties from the Shadow Cabinet.

Mafabi told the House presided over by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga last week that the two political parties had betrayed the ideals of the opposition by contravening an agreement reached to boycott the East Africa Legislative Assembly (EALA) election exercise.

Below is Mafabi’s verbatim statement.

Fellow countrymen and women, as you might be aware, a lot has transpired in our politics in the past weeks surrounding the election of members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

The purpose of this statement is to present the background to that fiasco; to clarify the response of my office (LOP) to the situation; and to re-focus our sights on tackling the challenges ahead.

When the NRM Caucus met to agree on the rules that would govern the elections of EALA members, they resolved that six slots would go to their party, the FDC would take two slots and an independent would take the last of the nine slots.

This arrangement was more like it had been in the previous two EALA sessions. We, however, as the opposition were aware of legal advice from the regional court in Arusha to the effect that the representation must reflect the political shades in our national Parliament and were also cognizant of articles of the EAC Treaty that demand inclusiveness in political representation.

Countrymen and women, it was on this basis that the Forum for Democratic Change refused the “deal” the NRM was offering it, and insisted that EALA elections this time round would cease to be a two-party affair and include representation by other opposition parties.

I chaired a couple of meetings attended by all opposition MPs and we agreed that if the NRM insisted on using the formula it had adopted, we would boycott the elections and seek further legal guidance.

This agreed to position was communicated to the leadership of all opposition parties with representation in Parliament.

On 22nd May 2012, leaders of all opposition parties in Parliament met and signed a joint statement, which was then issued at a joint press conference that morning. The statement was signed among others by the Secretaries General of DP(Hon. Mathias Nsubuga) and UPC (Hon. Rev Fr. Jacinto Ogwal).

The statement categorically stated that we would not nominate candidates for EALA until the Rules of the Uganda Parliament were brought into line with Article 50 of EA Treaty.

The spirit of the FDC in this whole arrangement was clear. We were not going to lie back and watch as the NRM continued to stifle space for other political parties, even if this sacrifice meant our own party foregoing the two EALA slots the NRM was willing to ‘share’ with us.

Importantly though, the FDC is a party that recognizes the rule of law and will therefore not sit and look as a travesty of justice and democracy is occasioned. Countrymen, it was on that basis that we set up a legal team headed by the Shadow Attorney General to head to Arusha and seek further clarification on the obvious illegal method of election that the NRM had adopted.

SHAM POLLS

At the back of our minds, it was clear that no opposition party was going to take part in these sham elections; a position we had agreed on by consensus. You can therefore imagine my shock and that of other genuine opposition members when we saw the Democratic Party and the Uganda Peoples Congress nominate members to take part in a sham election whose rules we had agreed to challenge.

How then were we to interpret their action of DP and UPC going behind our backs to take part in elections we had agreed to boycott in principle?

POWER HUNGRY

If this action by DP and UPC was not an abuse of trust and unprincipled hunger for political office and its trappings what else could it be?

If the actions of DP and UPC were not an indirect show of support to the NRM while ditching the unity forged by the opposition, what then was it?

If this was not a case of preaching water by day but gulping wine in the night by DP and UPC, what then was it?

Fellow countrymen and women, as the opposition, especially in Parliament, we recognize our limitations in numbers and therefore know how important it is to play as a team.

For what we lack in numbers, we have always made up in substance. That’s why both in the 8th Parliament and the present Parliament, FDC has always involved all opposition parties in the Shadow Cabinet, although we have the mandate to form cabinet alone. It was the same principle we applied when appointing members to head oversight committees.

Our thinking was that the opposition recognized the importance of unity and therefore needed to pull as a single force.

It was this illusion we lived in until events of the EALA elections exposed the true character of some of our colleagues.

Opposing a corrupt government can be a tough call and as you can see from recent events, only the principled and genuine believers in democracy and rule of law can survive.

FDC is strategically committed to cooperation amongst opposition parties as we challenge the entrenched NRM dictatorship. However, as the Official Opposition in Parliament, we have a responsibility to ensure that we offer an accountable opposition side to the people of Uganda.

It is for this reason that we must re-evaluate our cooperation with other “opposition” parties in Parliament.

We shall deal with other opposition parties strictly on principle and agreed rules of engagement.

Allow me also note that whereas we are re-thinking our relationship with other opposition political parties, there are members in those parties who believe in genuine change that this country deserves.

There are men and women in these other parties who every day and night, toil to ensure this country gets the true democratic change it deserves. We are not blind to the effort and commitment of these members.

I am very optimistic that when we have re-worked our rules of engagement, these committed democrats will have a place to continue working with us to help redeem Ugandans from the poverty, corruption, tribalism and abuse they go through daily at the hands of the NRM.

But before that happens, we must help Ugandans know who is genuinely opposed to NRM’s excesses and who is masquerading in the Opposition while in reality is working to help the NRM achieve its ill intentions.

That is the process we have embarked on now. Whereas unity and numbers are key in opposition, that unity would make little or no sense if it is not grounded in honesty and principle. No organization can thrive without principles and honesty.

Countrymen and women, I therefore, appeal for calm as we ride over this artificial tempest in our journey to make our country better but importantly as we seek to build politics of principle, commitment and sacrifice.

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