The newly elected interim president of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has unveiled an eight-point plan to revive what was once Uganda’s leading opposition political party.
Mr Erias Lukwago said he intends to implement the plan during his six months’ leadership in order to lift FDC out of the chaos it finds itself in today.
Mr Lukwago rose to the party helm on Tuesday after delegates at the extraordinary national delegates’ conference picked him to replace the suspended Patrick Oboi Amuriat as party president.
Delegates also resolved to suspend the party secretary general, Mr Nathan Nandala Mafabi; the treasurer general, Mr Geofrey Ekanya; and the electoral commission chairperson, Mr Boniface Toterebuka Bamwenda.
The resolutions to suspend the officials followed months of infighting over an alleged plan by the party president and secretary general to betray and hand FDC over to President Museveni, which allegation the two men deny. They were also taken in the wake of disputed internal grassroots elections held in parts of the country which FDC-Katonga Road denounced as fraudulent.
But those resolutions now threaten to give birth to two versions of the opposition party: FDC-Katonga Road and FDC-Najjanankumbi, with the interim president leading the latter formation.
Speaking yesterday, Mr Lukwago said his main goal is to restore the glory of the party.
“We are reaching out to various stakeholders in active politics, including those who had become despondent, to pick their opinions. The most important thing is getting the party back [on track] and realigning it to its original mission and vision,” he said
“[We want to] reinvigorate the spirit of ‘One Uganda, One people’, the original struggle because it was on that philosophy that it was anchored and founded, but over the years the people who were suspended yesterday (Tuesday) had diverted,” Mr Lukwago added.
He said FDC must become more vibrant again so that it can deal with the current challenges the country faces under what described as the current gun rule.
To achieve this, he said he will lead the party back to the battlefront against President Museveni’s leadership, streamline and strengthen leadership structures at all levels by organising credible internal elections.
Other elements of his plan are restoring the sanctity of the FDC party constitution and to forestall all intentions of the suspended leaders to attempt a coup against the party constitution.
Mr Lukwago says he is also looking to build links with other change-seeking forces to advance the liberation struggle in Uganda — by offering credible and transparent leadership that inspires hope to party members and all Ugandans.
“We are going to roll out a comprehensive plan because now we are having internal arrangements and very soon we shall roll out an action-packed programme for six months,” he said.
Defending the legitimacy of his leadership which has since been challenged by the so-called FDC-Najjanankumbi group, Mr Lukwago invoked the party constitution. The provision says in Article 28(1)b that the national chairman enjoys exclusive powers to convene and preside over the National Council and National Delegates Conference.
“POA [Patrick Oboi Amuriat] and others, instead of asking the party chairman to call the delegates conference, resorted to using Toterebuka Bamwenda, who is planning to convene a seminar disguised as a delegates’ conference to overthrow the party constitution, which we won’t allow,” he said.
“The national chairman presided over the delegates’ conference yesterday (Tuesday), which took those decisions. I have no doubts that he will respect the decision of the delegates’ conference he presided over,” Mr Lukago added.
He asked the Najjanankumbi-based “former party leadership” to refrain from whatever they are doing and bow out honourably to avoid shame.
“I would implore POA to discover himself [because] the POA I knew a couple of years ago is totally different from the one I see today. The POA of yesterday is such an astute leader, who avoids violence, espouses the values of good leadership, transparency, generally clean leadership who would inspire hope, charismatic,” he said.
Neither Mr Mr Amuriat nor Mr Nandala picked our repeated calls yesterday, but the deputy party spokesperson, Mr John Kikonyongo, said whatever the FDC-Katonga are doing will not fly.
“Of course, they know what they are doing is illegal; you don’t jump fences and declare people leaders. Likewise, you can’t just become a party president just like that. I would not even be responding to these people but anyway it is their right as Ugandans to play comedy,” he said.
The party, Mr Kikonyogo said, is going ahead with earlier plans for elections, “and by October 7, Lukwago will no longer be the party deputy president [for Central/Buganda] because he did not fill the nomination forms”.
“We are now cleaning chaff from rice and by October 7, this process will be done once and for all,” he said.