The Democratic Party-DP has come out to refute claims made by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni that political transition was not part of the agreement they signed with his [Museveni]ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM in July.
In two separate interviews with KTN television of Kenya and NBS television of Uganda, Museveni said the only thing they agreed upon with Norbert Mao, the DP president was to bring all opposition political parties that have in the past fought the NRM into government.
Museveni said, NRM already has mechanisms through which it will get a successor.
“That’s our doctrine to unite as many as possible so that the ones who are not with us are fewer. Maybe Mao is presenting it the way he is presenting it but that’s our own old way of uniting anybody who agrees to unite with us. That is his approach but we have discussed broadly unity,” Museveni is quoted by Nile Post, an affiliate of NBS TV.
Using his Twitter handle, Mao who is now the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, a docket he got as a result of the cooperation agreement, said the president’s words have been blown out of context.
Mao however added that he was happy that now the topic of transition is being openly discussed: “Transition is now out there on the national agenda…Political transitions can be initiated either from within by incumbents or by outside groups. The means vary. DP’s goal of a “Peaceful Presidential Transition” is in black and white in the Cooperation Agreement. What is left is to mutually discuss its modalities in detail,” Mao said.
He also appeared to be blaming opposition groups that have been critical of the agreement as the force behind the negative connotation in which the President’s words have been received: “I have been in Ugandan politics long enough to judge who is honest and who is dishonest. I can state without any fear of contradiction that some of my fellow opposition party leaders are incurably dishonest and that is why they’re unfit to lead change. Ugandans know them,” Mao said.
Speaking in Kampala to formally react to Museveni’s distancing himself from the what Mao says was part of the agreement, Okoler Opio Lo Amanu, the DP spokesperson said that the agreement clearly states that the parties were to work towards Uganda having a presidential transition.
Okoler added that even before Mao signed the contentious agreement that has left division within the country’s oldest part, he had started way before advocating for a political transition.
“It should be remembered that the DP President General told President Museveni during an IPOD meeting in 2018 that he looks forward to day when somebody else would be swearing in as presiden,” Okoler said. “Mao has severally asserted that we need a peaceful change of government way before he signed the cooperation agreement.”
Asked why they don’t share the agreement so that all Ugandans would read it to know what exactly was agreed upon, Okoler said they have to first seek permission of the NRM before they can do so.
“An agreement is a consensus that is reached by the two parties after a meeting,” he said. “It is at the liberty of the parties to either share it and when to do so. It was agreed that let that agreement be shared with mutual consent of those concerned. We can’t give you the agreement until we have consent of NRM. However, it will be issued; there is no need to hurry… Uganda is not collapsing today.”
Asked about whether they trust President Museveni to fulfil his obligations in the agreement, Okoler said there is no way they would ensure this.
Meanwhile DP National Executive Committee that sat over the weekend deferred the debate on the same controversial cooperation agreement. In the meeting, Mao elaborately explained the contents of the agreement to an anxious audience part of which had vehemently opposed it.
Okoler said because of time constraints due to a packed agenda, they agreed to hold another NEC meeting on a date yet to be specified to fully debate the document with view of either to ratify or reject it.
In the draft cooperation agreement that was leaked, Mao was to be appointed minister of justice and constitutional affairs. It was also agreed that another junior minister would be appointed from DP. The NRM also committed to supporting the election of the DP Secretary General Gerald Siranda to the East African Legislative Assembly.