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Uganda’s Opposition To Boycott Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting

Uganda’s opposition parties say they would not only boycott this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) meeting in Kampala, but also hold parallel activities to press home their displeasure over the government’s refusal to address their concerns. The opposition parties also criticized the commonwealth secretariat for failing to respond or acknowledge a petition of grievances they presented to the secretariat in London.

But the government supporters have condemned the opposition’s plan to hold parallel activities describing it as a calculated attempt to embarrass President Yoweri Museveni. Erias Lukwago is an opposition member of parliament. From the capital, Kampala he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition is disappointed in the government.

“We feel so much disappointed in the way the whole program is being run. We are not satisfied with the way all the activities have been arranged by the government. One of the programs is not tailored on the principles of commonwealth as enshrined in the Harare Declaration of 1991. We have the principles here - constitutional governance, the rule of law, eradication of poverty, transformation of society, human developments and so on and so forth. But what we are witnessing right now is not in tandem with those principles,” Lukwago said.

He denied the oppositions’ parallel activities are aimed at embarrassing President Museveni’s government.

“No, that is absolutely false, we do not have any intention of embarrassing President Museveni. Right from the word go we did say that we embrace CHOGM, and we wanted it to be hosted here in Uganda, only that we wanted all these issues addressed. Unfortunately, they have not been addressed. And we have made several communications to Donald MacKinnon (Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat) and no response has been made,” he said.

Lukwago said Uganda’s opposition feels frustrated with the Commonwealth secretariat among others.

“I personally, together with a number of opposition leaders, traveled all the way to UK (United Kingdom) and we met the director of human rights Rabab Fatima, and we expressed a lot of concerns, and we hoped they would be addressed. We followed it up with a written communication detailing our concerns, up to now we have not received any response,” Lukwago pointed out.

He questioned what the benefits of the Kampala Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

“We have sunk in colossal sums of money you can imagine in Uganda Shillings 230 billion, which has been sunk in. Are we getting value for our money? That is the question we are posing,” he said.