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Opposition trends to watch towards Uganda’s 2011 elections

By O' Kalinge-Nyago

Three trends on Uganda's political scene are discernible. First is the resurgence of the Inter Party Cooperation, a formal grouping of four political parties with representation in parliament, namely Conservative Party, Forum for Democratic Change, Justice Forum/JEEMA and Uganda Peoples Congress. Pundits thought it was impossible to hold these parties together for three months. Soon IPC will celebrate its second year.

Second, is the emergence of brand new faces of women political activists who are not keen to please the ruling party, focusing on electoral reforms, restoring of the presidential term limits and disbanding of the electoral commission. They have called themselves “Women for Peace”. They are not only from the IPC fraternity; they are from the Social Democratic Party (SDP), too. SDP is not yet a member of the Inter Party Cooperation.

During their well publicized action on International Women's Day which was led by UPC's Mama Miria Obote, even the Federal Alliance ladies were there, all dressed in black, despite Hon. Beti Kamya's known disdain for Inter Party Cooperation. Now, this new women formation seems to be accepting their new name “Black Mamas”.

The third phenomenon is the emergence of other brand new IPC youth faces who are keen to create a future where human rights are respected in Uganda and don't seem to have a limit to what they can do to expose and embarrass the regime over its appalling human rights record. They have called themselves “Youth for Human Rights” (“YouthRight”). They are not only from the traditional IPC parties. They are also from Nkoba za Mbogo, SDP, University guilds and a host of other elitist youth organisations who were previously content to work from their arm chairs writing youth proposals to donors. Like the Mamas, they also dress in black T-shirts marked “YouthRight”. They have already petitioned the International Criminal Court to indict those who ordered the shooting to death of over 42 unarmed Ugandans in cold blood during the September 2009 riots in Buganda.

The Women in Black and the Boys in Black seem to be coordinating their activities. During the Black Mama's charity march to Mulago Hospital this Monday, the boys in black were the march scouts. When time to carry the gifts for distribution to the maternity wards by the IPC women, the YouthRight boys were seen doing the hard work. The Black Mamas and the Black Boys seem to work in unison. They also seem to be receiving funds from the same source. One Black Mama told me that they are challenged before every activity to collect their own money and some source “doubles what they have collected”. This is probably to fight the over dependency syndrome that afflicts Uganda's society.

Some sections of the press are keen to destroy this unity and team work though. Perhaps because of ignorant zealousness or perhaps in service of the regime, they tend to often lie and misinform that the IPC women activities are FDC activities. They cleverly replace “IPC” with “FDC”. I have seen one of David Mafabi's long articles in one of the locals about the IPC Women's visit to the Uganda Electoral Commission, which ended in their brutal arrest. In his characteristic communist propaganda style, he kept repeating that it was FDC women only who agitate that Kiggundu should go.

This is intended to annoy the other partners in the alliance, so that they quit the Inter Party Cooperation, a cheap trick. They hope that the UPC, CP and JEEMA and now SDP women who contribute their own money and risk arrest each time they go out on the streets will get angry that FDC is “using them” so that they quit the alliance.

In addition to the three trends above, there seems to be increased activity in Western capitals in exposing the corruption and human rights abuses of the regime in Kampala and making Uganda's election 2011 a world election, not the typical banana republic election like the previous ones have been. Once all eyes are on Uganda, then election rigging might become a little harder. But more importantly, the inevitably ugly post election scenario expected if electoral reforms are not made, and in time, and the present controversial electoral commission is not disbanded, might be more internationally watched.

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