By Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
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Dear editor,
I originally come from a country where I do not count that much. I am a muganda by tribe and a Muslim by religion, a combination that has never seen anybody become a president in a country like Uganda or a katikiro of Buganda. I don't have coalitions rallying for what I feel is important but I support any coalition that can make my country a better democracy. I don't have news reporters writing about "poor me" but, I have views and that's my only weapon. I vote in the UK where I live but I don't vote in Uganda because there are no arrangements for Ugandans abroad to vote in their countries of residence. And, I know there are millions of Ugandans all over the world just like me.

One of Uganda's oldest and nastiest party, UPC, has decided to quit the Inter Party Coalition (IPC) simply because they could not accommodate or accept the views of the majority in the coalition.Coalitions and diplomacy are nice, especially when everyone agrees to do the same thing at the same time in the same way. For instance, the United Iraqi Alliance, a coalition of Shia parties, triumphed in the first proper elections in post Sadam Iraq, and this was hardly surprising since the Shia make up 60 per cent of the Iraqi population.

Why coalitions fail

The decision by UPC and DP to snub the IPC shows that up to now the opposition in Uganda don't know what they are up against and they don't understand the nature and magnitude of the campaign needed to gradually take NRM out of power. The differences between political parties in Uganda is as small as it was at the time of their formations but egos and selfishness have stopped them from cooperating with FDC to have a serious impact on the 2011 elections. With Mao and Otunu now attacking Besigye more than president Museveni, there's not a snowball's chance in hell of a future alliance happening, particularly since we don't have a strong multiparty system or a history of credible and fair elections in the country.

Yes, it's true that some coalitions are formed prior to elections ,and with multiple parties, coalitions often have to be formed after elections, but in Uganda's case the parties involved are too weak to even claim to be under serious multipartism. Both DP and UPC have got internal factions hanging over their heads and therefore the argument to form a coalition after the elections in a banana republic like Uganda does not make sense. Besides, there are never guarantees that any body can beat the incumbent on their own in the first around. Therefore, I think early coalitions are more efficient in developing countries than after elections.

Secondly, most of the coalitions in developing countries are not on the basis of strength, since some parties come to the table bringing nothing, and then having to accept other person's guidance, instructions, and philanthropy. I guess this is what happened with UPC when it joined the IPC as they contributed very little to the coalition, but surprisingly they started complaining of the FDC's dominance.FDC did put too much effort into the coalition than their partners.

In addition, most of our coalitions, unfortunately from my vantage point, are usually from a position of weakness. When IPC sit at tables with their donor counterparts, they come with ideas but not money. So donors finance their activities, and when people finance you ,they're the ones paying the piper. So they usually feel justified in calling the tune. So IPC don't feel that as if they can make progress with these kinds of coalitions where it serves the best interest of others who they are externally coalescing with, but not their best interests.

DP and NRM are happy with UPC's pull out

NRM and DP-Mao are happy that UPC has pulled out of the IPC but let's consider the following: there was a Christian prophet called Daniel who predicted about 2500 years ago, a political dynamic that would develop in the last days in the Middle East. It was an impossible projection at the time but it has come to happen and historians who were laughing at him are not issuing apologies but they praise his foresightedness.

Writing from the 6th century B.C., Daniel said that in the last days, there would exist a state of Israel. Israel state was just a dream for many people then but it came into reality on May 15, 1948 even when Daniel was already dead and buried. Daniel predicated that Israel would be at war with the surrounding states. Daniel also foretold the rise, fall and revival of the old Roman Empire.

I'm yet to find out the quranic version of the state of Israel but the point is that the pull out of UPC from the IPC was something that was around the corner and it was easy for those against the coalition or cooperation to predict something like that. Their predications were based on the fact that they wanted the IPC to fail not because they were a lot of reality in it. Those of us who wanted and still want the IPC to work will continue promoting unity among different political forces even if the current coalition does not achieve that much in the 2011 elections.

Some NRM and DP supporters read into the situation when they realised that Otunu had not turned up for nominations at Kololo and took their chances to make legless announcements that IPC was dead. But IPC membership is not defined by UPC or DP only as there are other parties involved. If membership was defined by the political weight of the party then FDC remains the 'king' of the IPC, and if the ''king'' had thrown in the towel then it would probably be justifiable to announce the IPC dead.

Therefore, for those who have remained in the IPC ,they need to be most organized and also understand that they are going to run the most expensive campaign ever in Uganda���s history. Ugandans should reject the narrow vision of DP and UPC who have built walls themselves for the sake of promoting their self interests.

For now, let's rally behind the four gentlemen: Besigye(FDC), Kyanjo(JEEMA), Mabike(SDP) and Kigongo(CP), who have put their personal differences aside for the sake of the restoring democracy in the country. It's my prayer that other pressure groups such as Suubi and IPC women organisations keep working with them despite the official withdraw of UPC from the alliance.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba
United Kingdom