Uganda – The quest for Dialogue as a tool for peaceful upcoming elections

A citizen casting her vote in the 2011 election. Image via Electoral Commission of Uganda.

By Gloria Laker Aciro Adiiiki, KAMPALA –UGANDA

Ugandan politicians are looking into early round table dialogues among different political parties, leaders and its citizen as a means to achieving peaceful general elections.

The country goes into polls to elect its leaders in February 2021. In recent past, Ugandan elections have been associated with violence during campaign periods escalating into unrest and this is one of the issues Ugandans are hoping that the Interparty Organisation Dialogue (IPOD) will help to prevent through pushing its mandate of round table discussions.

Verifying a voter on the register. Image via Electoral Commission of Uganda.

“Despite the differences, IPOD should put Uganda first and unite party leaders and sensitize voters on the need for peaceful elections come 2021. The leaders should be examples and say no to violence and to a great extent, we will achieve peace in the coming election”

Vincent Maganjo a voter in Kampala explained.

However, there has been controversies in IPOD with the largest opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), who are refusing to sit in on any discussions with president Yoweri Museveni of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).

According to Lydia Wanyoto, a former Member of Parliament and an NRM supporter, she says the FDC feel their rights are abused during elections and they do not want to share a table with president Museveni.

A party member from the Ugandan People’s Congress (UPC) shares his views with attendees during an IPOD symposium held on September 10 in Uganda. Image via nimd.org

Democratic Party (DP) president Norbert Mao is currently chairing IPOD which is managed on a rotation basis. The next party to take over and chair IPOD is the FDC which is against sitting on the same table with President Museveni.

IPOD has two forums, one under the secretary general which is attended by elected members of parliament, meaning if a political party does not have an MP in parliament it is not represented in this first IPOD forum. The second IPOD forum is for presidential candidates of all political parties and that is where the controversy is centred – with a section of the FDC leaders saying no, “we cannot dialogue with president Museveni on same table”

Wanyoto is now appealing to locals leaders to look into dialogue for a peaceful election.

Abdul Katuntu, a member of parliament on the FDC ticket is encouraging fellow FDC leaders to meet and talk with president Museveni under the IPOD forum, saying “ It’s normal to meet Museveni and talk. Having self-conversation is not dialogue, so it is important for FDC to meet and dialogue with president Museveni.”

Angelo Izama is a media analyst in Uganda. He says, “Every time power is concentrated on one region, there is a looming crisis.”

This therefore calls for African leaders to avert such violence by holding transparent elections, not clinging on to power for a long time, equal distribution of resources, respecting human rights and holding free and fair elections.

AUTHORS BIO

Gloria Laker Aciro Adiiki is a Ugandan Peace journalist and an expert on Peace Journalism based in Kamapa.  For two decades Gloria covered the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) conflict in northern Uganda for local and International Media.

Gloria now heads up the Peace Journalism Foundation of East Africa and runs the Uganda Refugees and Migration Media Network, all of which are aimed at preventing media-induced violence in Africa and encouraging journalists to voice the vulnerable by offering counter-narrative reports to debunk negative portrayal of refugees and other groups.

In 2016, Gloria was acknowledged and honoured as a journalist by the BBC ‘Outlook Inspirational project’ for her courageous and peaceful coverage of the LRA war. She was acclaimed again in 2008 as a BBC award winner for communicating justice in northern Uganda and in 2019 was awarded as a Golden Jubilee Medalist by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni for her courage, contribution and positive coverage of the LRA conflict in her birthplace. Gloria holds a BA degree in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Email: glorialaker@gmail.com
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Twitter: @GloriaLaker
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