Saturday January 4 2014

Opposition warn of mass activism



With two years to the scheduled 2016 general elections, the opposition has told the NRM government to accept dialogue on democracy or else brace for renewed political activism in 2014.

The Inter-Party Coalition (IPC) spokesperson, Mr Assuman Basalirwa, told the Saturday Monitor that if the opposition avail peaceful means to dissolve the “unconstitutional tendencies” in the country and government fails to heed, the opposition will resort to political activism.

The IPC comprises various opposition parties that include Forum for Democratic Change, Jeema and Social Democratic Party.

Mr Basalirwa said 2013 has been tough for the opposition struggle and 2014 will be a continuation of that mission. “As opposition, we need to struggle for a legal and conducive political environment, as tenets of an engaged path towards a peaceful power transition from the NRM regime to another regime in 2016. To achieve this, we need to explore all the avenues, including legal – going to Parliament and courts of laws,” said Mr Basalirwa, who is also the Jeema party president.

“We shall try out dialogue with government, we shall not lose hope in going to courts of law. But if all that fails, we shall rise up and rally masses to fight for the restoration of the rule of law. Short of that, 2016 will be a waste of time. Why should Ugandans sit back when there is a catalogue of unconstitutional governance which they should fight?” he queried.

Mr Basalirwa cited the controversial impeachment of Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and increasing detention of opposition leaders beyond the 48-hour constitutional limit before one is charged in court or freed on bond. Two weeks ago, opposition activists under their pressure body For God and My Country (4GC) spearheaded by Mr Mathias Mpuuga held a closed-door meeting in Rukungiri District, but their resolutions have not yet been established.

The 4GC and its predecessor Activists for Change (A4C) in 2012 staged public demonstrations to rally masses against the ruling NRM on what the group calls the government’s restrictions on democratic freedom and the rising cost of living.

The demonstrations, mostly in Kampala, often paralysed business and resulted in several arrests and deaths. The government has always argued that the opposition-led demonstrations hinders public peace and businesses. Several opposition leaders, including Kizza Besigye, Erias Lukwago, Ingrid Turinawe, among others, have been charged for participating in such activities.

FDC party spokesperson Wafula Oguttu said for opposition parties to realise their desired political goals, they must strengthen their party structures from national level down to the villages. “If we are to move forward, we need to build our own internal structures as opposition parties, strengthen them so that we can unite strong and not weak parties,” he said in a telephone interview.

“Our struggle to push for constitutional and political reforms will yield some results. We shall try our best to achieve this through dialogue, political engagements, but if that fails we shall also use political activism.”