Uganda: FDC Threatens to Boycott Ipod Summit Over Police Harassment

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has threatened to boycott the second Inter-party for Dialogue (IPOD) summit and other donor funded programmes in protest over continued harassment of party officials.

FDC president, Patrick Oboi Amuriat says it would be hypocritical of them to carry as normal, yet senior party members are continuously harassed by police and their party activities disrupted.

FDC boycotted the first IPOD summit of party leaders held in November last year over the same reasons. The summit was attended by President Museveni, the national chairman of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.

IPOD, which brings together political parties represented in parliament, is scheduled for its second summit on May 15 and is funded by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD). Currently, IPOD members are drawn from the Democratic Party (DP), National Resistance Movement (NRM), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) and Justice Forum (JEEMA).

Amuriat says they expected government to scale down on the harassment after first IPOD summit since FDC's protests were presented to Museveni by other opposition party leaders who attended the summit. Last month, FDC started countrywide mobilization activities but these have heavily been disrupted by police.

IPOD last week condemned police for harassment of party leaders and called for implementation of laws in a non-partisan manner. IPOD council chairperson, Gerald Siranda said the actions of police are against the spirit of last year's IPOD summit, which called for respect of opposition parties when they organise events.

"As IPOD council comprising of five parties in parliament namely; Democratic Party, National Resistance Movement,, Forum for Democratic Change, Uganda Peoples' Congress and JEEMA, we strongly condemn the continued harassment of our members," Siranda said during IPOD council press conference."

Amuriat told journalists at FDC headquarters in Najjanankumbi that the party is planning to also boycott all other donor funded activities if government doesn't stop harassing them. He said they will take their plight to international community and call for sanctions on Museveni and senior government officials who are at the center of harassing politicians.

"We're going to bring this to the attention of the international community and if necessary, call for sanctions against the dictatorship in Kampala. Number two, we are considering non cooperation and non participation in some of the donor funded activities that relate to supporting the growth of political parties in this country." said Amuriat.

"At the moment were participating in the IPOD program funded by the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF) and there is an upcoming summit on the 15th of May. If we continue to be treated the way we have been treated, it is possible that we will be boycotting that summit. This is the notice that we put to IPOD and to the rogue regime of NRM of that has continued to torment the population of Uganda." he added.

Amuriat says FDC will continue with their activities across the country and appealed to Ugandans to rise up against the police and Museveni's government harassment. Amuriat says FDC will continue confronting anyone who stands in their way. He says they represent peoples' views like those of Algerians and recently Sudanese who caused change of government through mass protests.

"We're not going to take the actions of the police laying down. With or without the police approval, our activities are going to go ahead. The program that is with the police and with the media is going to be implemented even the police would like to interfere with it. Our call to the citizens of this country is, for them to rise against the excesses of the police, to rise up against the dictatorship in Kampala. Our call to the police is for them to exercise restraint because they as individuals will be personally culpable for the wrongdoings that they continue to mete on us.

IPOD last week announced that they in partnership with Office of the Prime Minister will be hosting a conference next week to discuss dialogue on the implementation of Public Order Management Act (POMA). Amuriat said FDC will attend the event but don't expect much from it.

"I hope this is going to be a showbiz intended to waste our time and to give false hope. We will give them a benefit of doubt. My suspicion is that nothing will come out of it," he said.

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