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Kampala Lord Mayor Aims to Unite Uganda Opposition Groups

FILE - Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago (R) address the media outside the Buganda Magistrates court, Uganda.

The Lord Mayor of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, has established a Truth and Justice Platform that aims to unite opponents of President Yoweri Museveni to “aggressively and assertively” seek political and electoral reforms ahead of next year’s elections.

Erias Lukwago said it is time the ruling National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) time in power be broken to allow what he called a proper constitutional succession.

He said the platform aims to bring together all democratic forces and organizations, including political parties, civil society, and religious groups that seek changes in the way the country is governed.

“The main purpose is to mobilize Ugandans to join hands with the Democratic Alliance [opposition parties] so that we can dismantle the dictatorship President Museveni has built in this country.

"We have not had orderly succession to power, he has personalized all the [state] institutions and all and he is preparing to rig elections. So we want to team up with all the forces of change so that for once and for all, we get rid of President Museveni and his system,” said Lukwago.

But supporters of the NRM say the party wins elections legitimately because of the enormous support President Museveni enjoys across the country. They dismissed the Trust and Justice platform as yet another opposition tool that would create confusion among opponents of the administration in the run up to the elections.

They rejected Lukwago’s accusations saying it is unfortunate and misplaced. They said the opposition parties should focus on being competitive in the elections rather than embark on political mudslinging. Lukwago disagreed.

“We have done our best to play by the rules of the game, but unfortunately, President Museveni has entrenched impunity in the country. We have had pronouncement from courts of law to the effect that elections we have had have not been free and fair. They have not lived up to the standard as enshrined in our constitution, and he has instituted a rigging machinery so that elections are just a mere ritual,” said Lukwago.

Supporters of Museveni say Lukwago’s assessment of elections on the country is without merit. They contend that the opposition parties would only complain after losing the elections. Some leading opposition leaders have called for a boycott of next year’s election if their demands for electoral reforms are not met ahead of the vote.

Lukwago said it is not feasible, however, to boycott the election. He said there are no viable choices left, since he says the international community would not intervene.

“In the past we tried a boycott but it didn’t work out. And the international community will not come to our rescue. They would simply say please do proceed with the election because that is the only way out,” said Lukwago.

“We cannot indulge in subversive activities of course that would be taking the country in a wrong direction, we do not want to involve in unconstitutional means. So the only option we have is to go through these elections.”

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