The Uganda North America Association convention showcased Uganda arts and culture. Families enjoyed a display of traditional Uganda culture, including fashion, arts & crafts, and countless other activities. But the topic on nearly everyone’s mind was politics.
Last week President Yoweri Museveni announced that he will seek another team as president of Uganda. Opposition groups accuse the Uganda North America Association of being a mouthpiece for the ruling party. But Moses Wilson the president of UNAA says these allegations are unfounded.
“We have gone out of our way to come out as neutral," said Wilson. "We understand that we are under a lot of scrutiny from the international community. We have invited observers including Americas to show that we are not biased in anyway.”
The leader of the Democratic Party in Uganda Norbert Mao says the Obama administration needs to hold President Museveni accountable as the democratic process moves forward.
“I am calling upon president Obama." said Mao, "to call president Museveni to order so that Museveni holds free and fair elections. Because if we don't have free and fair elections, we are going back to the cycle of violence that we thought was now behind us.”
The Opposition accuses the Ugandan government of putting in place an incompetent Electoral commission that has failed to organize free and fair elections. But Daudi Migereko the government Minister and Chief Whip dismissed those claims and said the NRM electoral commission is independent and will hold democratic elections 2011.
“I want to make it absolutely clear that the national electoral commission is independent, autonomous, and is not under the direction of the NRM as a party," said Migereko.
A coalition of Ugandan opposition parties Kizza Besigye, as their joint candidate to run against President Yoweri Museveni in next year's election.
The opposition parties formed the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) in July 2008 and agreed to field a joint presidential candidate against Mr. Museveni. Ronnie Mayanja, a US based Ugandan political analyst says that there is a need for change in Uganda.
"Surely if you been in power for more than 25 years," he said, "there must be someone you can hand over power too or take over from you… But whether there is an opposition to take over also remains a challenge because of the divisions that I see with the opposition."
President Museveni defeated Kizza Besigye in the 2001 and 2006 elections that were marred by accusations of widespread vote fraud.
Perhaps quite appropriately, the theme this year is "Cultural Diversity, Prosperity and Wellness."