President Museveni has today Wednesday arrived at a Resort in the outskirts of Kampala city to attend the Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) Summit.
Museveni was received by leaders of the other political parties DP’s Norbert Mao, UPC’s Jimmy Akena and JEEMA’s Asuman Basalirwa.
The summit is being held under the theme “Strengthening multiparty Governance in Uganda”
High on the agenda is strengthening political parties to enhance their relevance and effectiveness; enacting constitutional and electoral law reforms to improve the functioning of Uganda`s multiparty system; promotion of inclusiveness in politics especially regarding the role of gender and youth and improving governance, human rights and observance of the rule of law.
IPOD was set up in 2010 to bring together leaders of all political shades in the country to foster a strong and vibrant multiparty democracy in Uganda based on peaceful co-existence of all citizens to work harmoniously.
Political parties with representation in Parliament include NRM, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Democratic Party (DP), Justice Forum (JEEMA) and Uganda People’s Congress (UPC).
IPOD summit chairman, Hon Jimmy Akena said the summit will address issues related to electoral democracy in Uganda.
“Everyone should have confidence that when they participate in an election, it will be free and fair and the results shall represent the voters’ will,” said Akena.
He called on political leaders to put national interests above self, saying Uganda is bigger than parties.
“I would have been glad to do everything to fail NRM since I belong to UPC but it’s not good to put the country at standstill. Uganda must be our project and not FDC or NRM or UPC or DP,” he added.
Akena said northern Uganda bore the brunt of several civil wars and must now take painful concessions to realize a political stable and prosperous country.
The meeting is historic considering this is the first time in decades that Museveni is sitting on a round table with opposition leaders to brainstorm on matters of national importance.
The President has previously expressed disdain for talks with opposition, saying his party maintains a wide majority in Parliament and swept the recently-concluded Local Council elections.
But his decision to grace the IPOD Summit is a step forward in finding an amicable solution to Uganda’s endless political challenges.
The reconciliation of Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga in Kenya have created a conducive atmosphere for attracting billions of dollars in Foreign Direct Investment.
Political wrangling and street battles between security forces and opposition members have damaged the country’s reputation, undermining efforts aimed at attracting tourists and investors.
The FDC party chose not to attend the function, citing “inadequate time for us to discuss and agree on the thematic areas to define the agenda for the period of 2019-2021” before the meeting of December 12, 2018.
FDC said these areas include “enacting constitutional and electoral reforms which were discussed and agreed upon in the Uganda Citizens’ Compact on Free and Fair Elections but have since not been implemented by the ruling NRM government.”
The party further said it was “troubled by the current hostile political environment across the country especially towards us, which does not offer a conducive environment for FDC to actively participate in the Summit.”
However, other parties including DP, UPC and Jeema which have representation in Parliament are attending the function.
Presidential spokesperson Don Wanyama said the first session was done.
“The party leaders have retreated to a closed session and will emerge later to address the full house,” he said.
IPOD is part of the National Dialogue process aimed at discussing critical issues of national interest.
Eminent Persons Group for the Uganda National Dialogue led by the Mufti, Sheikh Ramathan Mubajje are providing leadership for the convening of the dialogue process.
Mubajje recently told Speaker Rebecca Kadaga the national dialogue would be structured in four stages, which will include a citizen led process and political negotiations through the Inter Party Organisation on Democracy (IPOD) among others.
“The third is the Museveni-Besigye mediation and the Constitutional Review Commission.”