By Stephen Kalema
Norbert Mao has received backing from an unlikely ‘friend’ for his stand on pulling out of upcoming National Dialogue.
Mao last week decided that his party would not take part in the dialogue when the ruling NRM party is continuously disrespecting their demands.
“The lawlessness in the government means undermining the environment that would be vital for constructive dialogue. We cannot pretend to be going for national dialogue when the right to organize it was being effectively undermined,” said Mao, the DP president general said last week.
The national dialogue is scheduled for November 21 and is organized by the Elders Forum of Uganda, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) and members of the civil society with the theme of consolidating peace, democracy and development to promote equal opportunity and achieve shared prosperity.
Now, according to Mukono municipality legislator Betty Nambooze, there is no way any serious political party can sit and dialogue with the government when there are no parameters to follow.
“For that matter, I totally agree with DP president general Norbert Mao on his decision to withdraw from the said talks,” Nambooze told Watchdog Uganda on Wednesday.
On October 8, the Opposition listed seven demands to the organisers if they were to hold talks with government.
These included; clarification on the agenda of the dialogue, composition of the participants, modalities of convening and arrangements of independent financing of the national dialogue. Also, the opposition wanted a guarantee on how the outcome from the dialogue will be implemented plus a guarantee from government that all political repression, persecution and impunity will end instantly and also declare immediate guarantee of freedom of political activities.
“The organizers are not bold enough to tell Museveni the demands of the opposition. And it’s not only DP which had tabled these demands but all opposition parties agreed on these demands however the organizers seem not interested and I don’t think there any politician would agree that,” Nambooze, a DP member opposed to Mao’s leadership said.
According to Nambooze, if the organisers do not adhere to the demands of the opposition, national dialogue would appear as a national talk show for President Museveni.
“How can one of the sides to dialogue be the same person to preside over its launch? I think they are just arranging for Museveni to come and speak to them,” Nambooze said.
Before DP pulled out of this dialogue, on October 8, all opposition political parties gathered at Hotel Protea in Kampala and insisted that the national dialogue is more important but must be based on clear agenda and guarantee of mutual respect for the outcomes.
The document of demands was signed by; Forum for Democratic Change party president Patrick Amuriat, the leader of one of the UPC sections, Joseph Bossa, Democratic Party (DP) president Norbert Mao, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) chairperson Dick Odur, four-time presidential candidate Kizza Besigye as leader of the “People’s Government,” Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu of the New Formation political group and Mr Olara Otunnu as a concerned citizen.
When Watchdog Uganda contacted Mao following a second visit of the national dialogue organisers to Parliament on Tuesday, he said the organisers are escaping from the right path of confirming a clear agenda and mutual respect from the ruling party over the seven demands.
Therefore, he maintained that they will not dialogue.
Gen. Muntu, another leading opposition figure, said since Independence, there has never been any chance of national dialogue.
“The government knows these issues but it uses force to govern the people. If they want to continue moving on that path of using force, then they will choose that. But you cannot continue using force permanently. However national dialogue may be would make something if they have respected these demands,” Gen. Muntu reportedly said.
FDC is yet to decide its move incase organisers are not willing to respect their demands.