Uganda Peoples Congress

Political Cooperation Is Imperative Now

My colleagues, the Presidents/President Generals,
Your Excellencies the Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Honorable members of Parliament,
All invited guests in your capacities,
Respective Party leaders, members and supporters,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

  1. In my capacity as the current Chairperson of the Summit of the Inter-Party Cooperation composed of the Conservative Party (CP), Democratic Party (DP), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Justice Forum (JEEMA) and Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC), I take great pleasure in warmly welcoming you all to this historic occasion in the political history of this country when our five political parties have publically signed a protocol of cooperation.
  2. An outline of the salient features of the protocol has already been ably delivered by Mr. Peter Mukidi Walubiri, Secretary General of UPC.
  3. Inter-Party Cooperation in the political history of Uganda is an established phenomenon. Whenever there has been a national crisis or other compelling circumstances, the political parties who are ordinarily in competition against each other, have come together to cooperate for the greater good of mother Uganda.
  4. In the wake of and clamor for independence after the Second World War, several political parties emerged in Uganda in competition with each other. Soon, Uganda was embroiled in the "Buganda question". This was essentially a failure of Uganda and Buganda to agree on a political settlement that would accommodate the interests of both. At some point in time, Buganda wanted to secede from Uganda and attain separate independence. There was a near total boycott of the 1961 elections that led to the 1961 self rule Government under Benedicto Kiwanuka. After these elections, the British insisted that they would only grant independence to a united Uganda.
  5. The attainment of Uganda's independence in 1962 was smoothly and peacefully achieved as a result of cooperation of the political forces representing diverse interests. The UPC/Kabaka Yeka (KY) Alliance was critical to the success of the Second Lancaster House Conference that was attended by all of Uganda's stakeholders. The consensus agreed at Lancaster was codified into the 1962 independence Constitution. The UPC/KY Alliance government that was formed after the general elections of April 1962 was the culmination of the cooperative initiatives of the UPC and KY. The benefits that accrued to Uganda as a result of that cooperation are now public knowledge. It is significant to point out that Kololo, the venue of today's function is exactly the same place where the first fruits of cooperation were celebrated when the instruments of independence were received by the victorious people of Uganda.
  6. The next inter-party cooperation occurred during and after the overthrow of the military dictator Idd Amin and his regime in April, 1979, with the formation of the Uganda National Liberation Front (UNLF). The UNLF government that succeeded Amin's dictatorial regime was formed out of various political groups that participated in one way or other, in the overthrow of Amin's dictatorship.
  7. Again, when the UNLF umbrella turned out to be unworkable, Inter-Party cooperation between particularly DP and UPC became necessary. The two political Parties collaborated in the National Consultative Council (NRC) to bring back multiparty governance through the 1980 general elections. Unfortunately, the return to multiparty governance was short-lived as the country was once again taken over by men under arms.
  8. Between 1985 and 1996 the system of governance in place restricted free interaction between political parties. It was not until 1996 when elective politics was re-introduced into the body politic of Uganda that there was another attempt at cooperation under the Inter-Party Forces Cooperation (IPFC) formed principally between DP and UPC to support the candidature of Dr. Paul Semwogerere in an effort to return Uganda to multiparty governance.
  9. In 2001, the DP, UPC and CP backed the candidature of Dr. Kiiza Besigye in another cooperative endeavor to change the then clearly unsatisfactory political course in Uganda.
  10. After the NRM cheated the 2001 elections, a more focused approach to inter-party cooperation was adopted by CP, DP, UPC, JEEMA, NDF, The Free Movement( TFM) and Reform Agenda leading to the formation of the G7 to advocate for the restoration of multi party system of governance in Uganda. When the FDC was formed, the Cooperation was restructured into the G6.This time round, the mission of the Cooperation was identified, objectives agreed upon and an agreement of cooperation signed by the leaders of the cooperating political parties. The outcome of that undertaking was the successful realization of the mission, namely returning the country to multiparty system of governance. Attempts to stretch the work of the G6 Cooperation during the 2006 general elections aborted as electoral rivalry between the political parties took over.
  11. Today, Uganda is at crossroads of a possible and happy return to genuine multiparty democracy and sustainable peace and development or a slide into anarchy and possible genocide. When a partisan Electoral Commission can no longer organize credible let alone free and fair elections; when persons connected to the highest office in the land are arrested on allegations of attempting to purchase chemical and biological weapons; when citizens are abducted by state agents and held in illegal detention for a week and rampant violations of human rights abound with impunity; when the majority of our young people roam the villages and towns for years after school without employment; when diseases ravage the entire nation; when the Government stands helpless to stop the carnage of school fires; when there is a total breakdown of social service delivery and millions of Ugandans continue to wallow in abject poverty as corruption becomes entrenched as a pillar of governance, it is time for political parties to seriously reflect on the future of this country. It is now imperative for political parties in this country to cooperate and rescue our country from sliding into a completely failed state.
  12. We now have the hindsight of history to take lessons from the successes and failures of earlier cooperation efforts. Many of the achievements of these earlier efforts did not stand the test of time. The problem was not with the very concept of cooperation, which remains relevant and indeed more urgent today, nor to a large extent with the cooperating political parties perse, but largely with individuals in positions of leadership and influence. A combination of factors conspired, from time to time, to frustrate the noble goal of cooperative effort in the politics of our country. Some of these factors included:-
  13. Indiscipline of cooperating individuals and institutions;
  14. Lack of clarity on the objectives of cooperation;
  15. Undefined or vaguely defined missions;
  16. Insufficient time for formulation of the framework of the cooperation;
  17. Mistrust and suspicion amongst leaders and members;
  18. Over ambition by individuals.
  19. It is clear from the outset that the new Cooperation faces several challenges for which there is need to interalia:
  20. Take lessons from all the past experiences,
  21. Agree and focus on clear objectives and mission,
  22. Outline a complete framework for the cooperation,
  23. Instill relentless commitment coupled with transparent method of work amongst cooperating members,
  24. Develop and nurture the culture of mutual trust and respect at personal and institutional level.
  25. Instill the spirit of unity to achieve the set goals.
  26. These challenges are not insurmountable especially when the people of Uganda critically analyze and conclude that short of a resort to costly violence there are few, if any, viable options left.
  27. This Cooperation is the vehicle to free Uganda from NRM dictatorship and bondage. Once we are free, individual Political Parties shall be free and able to rebuild and strengthen themselves in a truly multi-party democracy. As leaders, we have taken the first bold step in the annals of Uganda's history by signing this protocol. Today and not tomorrow is the time for all Ugandans to embrace the Cooperation.

For God and my Country

Miria Kalule Obote

Chairperson, Inter- Party Cooperation