Mbabazi, Nandala dialogue healthy

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Posted  Saturday, December 7  2013 at  02:00

Prime Minster Amama Mbabazi and Leader of Opposition in Parliament Nandala Mafabi this week held discussions aimed at finding a political solution to the standoff in Kampala that has seen Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and opposition leader Kizza Besigye detained at various police stations or in their homes under what has come to be known as “preventive arrest”.
Many Ugandans will welcome this new approach, where in the past they have been treated to bravado and denunciations from the two sides.

Yes the opposition seems to have realised that the other options of engagement with government are also worthy exploring, while on the other hand, government too seems to have realised the futility of applying tear gas and batons in addressing political disagreement.

While it may be too early to see the dividends of this week’s engagement, we remain hopeful that discussions between the government and the opposition will move beyond just the issues of Kampala to encompass all areas of political contention and at the highest levels.

Some of the pressing issues in the country are electoral reforms, specifically the composition, methods of appointment, and independence of the Electoral Commission, and runaway corruption. The other is the space for democratic engagement by citizens that is increasingly being rolled back, the latest method being through the recently enacted Public Order Management Act.

It is, therefore, prudent that ruling party and opposition politicians rise above their political rhetoric and move to genuinely discuss the way forward for the country in light of difficult economic times and failing democracy. Tear gas, demonstrations and insults will only keep the country in a vicious cycle of violence.

We, therefore, hope that soon we shall see President Museveni and opposition leaders in talks, not just for the photo opportunity, but to truly chart a way forward for the country.