Uganda: DP Attacks FDC Over Meeting With Museveni

HYPOCRITES: Under fire for dealing with the president, DP chief accuses leading opposition party of hypocrisy.

The fallout from the recent meeting between members of opposition and President Museveni has exposed a sharp divide in the opposition, write EDRIS KIGGUNDU & SADAB KITATTA KAAYA.

The last time there was a major misunderstanding within the opposition, FDC expelled DP and UPC MPs from the shadow cabinet. In 2012, FDC accused DP and UPC of conniving with NRM to nominate MPs for the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) contrary to FDC's position to boycott the process.

A similar situation is brewing with insults and accusations flying as leaders of FDC and DP quarrel over a July 1 meeting at State House, Entebbe. The verbal exchange between DP and FDC officials is likely to sow discord within opposition ranks and weaken any efforts to unite against the NRM.

Convened under the auspices of the Inter-party organization for dialogue (IPOD), DP secretary general Mathias Nsubuga Birekeraawo accused the president of witch-hunting political opponents and demanded to know why Dr Kizza Besigye isn't released from Luzira prison. Besigye is on remand charged with treason.

In the meeting, Museveni justified the imprisonment of Dr Kizza Besigye and Michael Kabaziguruka, the Nakawa MP. He said Kabaziguruka tried and failed two times to assassinate him. Museveni also said that Besigye and Gen David Sejusa, the former coordinator of intelligence services, were involved in a plot to disrupt peace in the country.

But FDC and Besigye have since reacted angrily to Nsubuga's seemingly innocent overture. Speaking inside Luzira last week during a meeting with the visiting chief magistrate of Nakawa court James Ereemye Mawanda, Besigye warned opposition leaders to stop pleading for his release in meetings with President Museveni.

Besigye also urged Nsubuga and other politicians to stop speaking on his behalf. But in an interview on Saturday, Nsubuga accuses FDC officials of being dishonest and hypocritical. He told The Observer that FDC withdrew from the meeting at the last hour yet the party had been part of earlier IPOD meetings.

"There is something wrong with some people in FDC. They are hypocrites. We agreed [that we shall go for the State House meeting] and they even sent names to the protocol department of State House. Now they are attacking us for attending the meeting. That is not fair," he says.

Nsubuga adds that FDC officials twisted what transpired at Entebbe to suit their interest. He said they did not plead for Besigye to be released but, instead, raised his name when they talked about the need to have dialogue, as opposed to antagonism, between the various political players.

Harold Kaija, the FDC deputy secretary general, told journalists during a press briefing last week that they could not attend a meeting whose agenda was not clear.

Kaija, who has attended some IPOD meetings, said FDC members did not just want to go to State House to take tea and pose for photos with Museveni.

Nsubuga says that during an IPOD meeting in Jinja on June 30, it was agreed that the current IPOD chair, Nathan Nandala-Mafabi [FDC secretary general], would lead the delegation to see Museveni on July 1, and later the same delegation would meet all leaders of political parties represented in parliament.

The Jinja meeting was attended by Justine Kasule Lumumba [NRM secretary general], Mafabi, Edward Segganyi [UPC secretary general], Gerard Siranda [DP deputy secretary general] and Kizito Tenthani, the executive secretary of IPOD.

The visit to State House, Nsubuga says, was to conform to the last resolution. "We had agreed that we gather at Protea hotel [in Entebbe] on the day of meeting Museveni at 12:30pm so that we can first eat something before we proceed to State House. By 1pm some of us had gathered but Mafabi and members of the FDC had not yet arrived," Nsubuga said.

As they were still pondering what to do, Mafabi sent an email to Kizito saying FDC would not be part of the meeting. He asked Nsubuga to lead the delegation.

The short email, which The Observer has seen, reads: "Please be advised that FDC will not attend until Dr KB [Kizza Besigye] is out of prison. Let Mathias [Nsubuga] represent me. This has been reached by FDC leadership. He [Nsubuga] can read the write-up."

Source: The Observer