Leading Opposition figures and groups were noticeably absent during the launch of a new coalition, part of plans to put up a united Opposition front ahead of the 2021 general polls.
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party and the People Power pressure group were, among others, not represented at the meeting in which Democratic Party (DP)president Norbert Mao announced what he dubbed a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) on which their plans to oust President Museveni, who has been in power for more than 33 years, will be anchored.
The ‘DP Bloc’ comprises the Democratic Party, Social Democratic Party (SDP) and People’s Development Party (PDP).
Addressing journalists on Friday, Mr Mao said his team had received apologies from Kyadondo East Member of Parliament Robert Kyagulanyi, who is also the People Power leader.
Mr Mao explained that Mr Kyagulanyi had sent apologies for missing the function but was open to a presentation of the idea in the near future.
“We also spoke to the president of FDC, Mr Patrick Amuriat, and the national chairman, Mr Wasswa Birigwa, unfortunately Mr Birigwa lost his mother. President Amuriat was out of town and the secretary general was not available,” he said.
He added that Uganda People’s Congress party president Jimmy Akena committed to come but had a court session.
“We are extremely heartened by the fact that everybody is committed to the united front because we receive a full delegation of Alliance for National Transformation [ANT] led by Gen, Mugisha Muntu, Mr Asuman Basalirwa from Jeema and DP bloc was in full attendance,” he said.
Mr Mao added that as DP, just like how they crafted the idea of Togikwatako to defend the Constitution, the idea of SPV is not cast in stone.
“We call upon Ugandans to put us under pressure, and isolate anyone who does not want to unite for the common cause, we believe that there are certain pillars around which this new framework can be built to have a united front,” he said.
The DP leader did not reveal whether they had extended an invitation to former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye or the Peoples Government that he leads.
Dr Besigye has lost four disputed elections against President Museveni. Mr Mao, who has spent decades in the Opposition, said they lack strategy and a united front, which is one of the ways to change the narrative.
The national ANT coordinator, Gen Mugisha Muntu, called for a consistent approach to the challenges facing the country. “We need to be committed, where we agree we make a decision and go with it all the way. Where we do not agree we will not hide but say so until we resolve areas of disagreement,” he said.
Gen Muntu added that since they are dealing with public interest they need to be open and transparent and keep on discussing.
“At this time, I cannot make any comment about the presentation but the only thing we can do is to get back to our headquarters and have the national interim committee that makes decisions for the Alliance to go through it and give feedback,” he said.
Previous attempts by the Opposition to unite came in 2011 under Inter-Party Cooperation and in 2016 under The Democratic Alliance but failed to present a joint presidential candidate and have had a negligible impact.