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Lukwago standoff: Government - opposition talks collapse

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By Yasiin Mugerwa

Posted  Friday, December 20  2013 at  00:00

In Summary

Describing himself as an “experienced leader” Mr Mbabazi pledged government commitment to constructive dialogue, adding that the value of dialogue is not to be found only in the results; but the process.

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Parliament- Talks between Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Nandala Mafabi aimed at unlocking the impasse over city Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago have collapsed, it emerged yesterday.

Negotiators came close but failed to clinch an agreeable deal on the way forward after weeks of protracted meetings chaired by Mr Mbabazi, who preached patience and understanding in trying to resolve the “difficult issues” in the face of “dogmatism”.

In a statement to Parliament yesterday, Mr Mafabi announced that the Opposition had pulled out of the talks. He accused some officials on the government side of leaking details of the meetings to Kampala Capital City Authority executive director Jennifer Musisi.

“Allow me register my profound disappointment with the State for its failure to sustain and engage in a meaningful negotiation about the impasse in Kampala. The talks have thus collapsed,” Mr Mafabi said.

Mr Mafabi told the House that the opposition proceeded with negotiations in the sincere hope that the government side was committed to dialogue as a means of resolving conflict and allowing normalcy to return as opposed to “impunity” and the “rule of might”.

Disappointment
“We hoped that the voice of reason was going to prevail. Unfortunately, it was a game of tricks instead,” he said.

“It was evident from the proceedings that government was engaging in a game of delaying tactics to defeat reason which we were very keen on giving a chance. We have endured the pain and agony of being called names; the people of Kampala who elected the leader maintained their patience in the hope that the negotiations were genuine.”

Responding to the statement, Mr Mbabazi accused Mr Mafabi of threatening violence and pleaded with him to return to the negotiating table.

“What is coming from LoP is not the language of dialogue. The LoP of today is different from the one we met. He was gentle and rational and as far as we are concerned the discussions are going on very well,” the Prime Minister said.

However, Mr Mafabi later told the Daily Monitor that unless the government agreed to allow the Lord Mayor to return to office, the Opposition side will not sit down with them again.

Describing himself as an “experienced leader” Mr Mbabazi pledged government commitment to constructive dialogue, adding that the value of dialogue is not to be found only in the results; but the process.
“We were courteous to each other and conducted the dialogue with absolute humility and respect to each other,” Mr Mafabi said. “We spoke very freely and we came to the conclusion that there were two issues: The facts and the interpretation of the law. We last met two days ago and agreed to meet again.”

Mr Mbabazi told the House that they had agreed that he meets the government team to sort out “some issues”.

The Daily Monitor understands that Mr Mbabazi is investigating accusations that there were attempts by Attorney General Peter Nyombi and other officials at his office to frustrate serving of the court order stopping the impeachment of the Lord Mayor.

ymugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com