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Who loses when NUP snubs IPOD?

Some Members of Parliament under the National Unity Platform (NUP) during a press conference. (Photo courtesy of District Focus)

Last week, the National Unity Platform declined an invitation to join and participate in the Inter-party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD), a decision that left provoked mixed reactions from the public. This action by NUP has dire implications in strengthening multiparty democracy in Uganda. IPOD is for now the only safe space for political parties represented in Parliament to come together and hold honest discussions. All members of the platform in principle have an equal voice.

The refusal of NUP to join other parties to pursue dialogue as one of the vehicles of influencing and engaging the party in power- NRM reflects bad on NUP’s pursuance of multi-party democracy. This act depicts ideological bankruptcy of most opposition political parties in Uganda whose pre-occupation is to remove Museveni.

NUP understandably wants to project itself as a different kind of opposition from the others and leave a mark in the politics of the country. As a young party, NUP should among the many approaches it will pursue embrace dialogue. They must demonstrate maturity to convince other Ugandans who want change in leadership that they are open to dialogue even in the most difficult circumstances. That is the essence and fulcrum of multi-party democracy.

Previously, FDC boycotted joining IPOD with the reasoning that “they did not want to shake hands with the head of state, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. NUP’s reason however is that IPOD is being used as a vehicle to legitimize a brutal regime. The path FDC took if adopted by NUP is a dent on the party’s values that speak to inclusivity.

NUP as a party represents the views and aspirations of more than its founders.  When they shun dialogue, they exclude other well-wishers and party members who believe in the concept of dialogue the opportunity to talk with other political parties including NRM that they have grievances with.

Not all that there is in being in opposition is to oppose everything. Within the understanding of multiparty democracy, opposition is just an alternative voice and opposition political parties are an alternative government. This means that they are judged by higher standards since they posture to be the better alternative. If NUP is not open to sitting on the same table with their tormentors and talk, how can they guarantee Ugandans who want change that when in power they will be open to dialogue and be tolerant to opposing views?

Will the same NUP refuse government funding that is given to political parties for their day to day activities on numerical strength, now that they are entitled as a party represented in Parliament with 59 MPs?

In recent communications and media interviews, the President has expressed willingness to work with political leaders with divergent political ideologies if it is for the better of the people. President Museveni with all his weaknesses, values dialogue and on many occasions has settled differences through dialogue.

IPOD forum is an opportunity for NUP to demonstrate maturity, tolerance, objectivity, and a better alternative. Multi-party politics is all about dialogue!


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