Government and political parties commit to a shared agenda for political and policy change

On 23rd-24th June 2016, the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) brought together its membership including the National Resistance Army (NRM), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Democratic Party and the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) in a post-election conference that was held at the Royal Suites Hotel in Kampala. The conference was held under the theme “beyond the 2016 elections; repositioning for inclusive dialogue and sustainable peace for development”.

The conference attracted the participation of political party representatives, the Elders Forum of Uganda, the Inter-religious Council of Uganda, Civil Society Organizations, the Electoral Commission, the Office of the Prime Minister, Development Partners and the media. The prevailing political tensions were acknowledged which augmented the need for immediate engagement to mitigate the negative impact this situation might bring.

 In a statement read on behalf of the NRM Secretary General, Hon. Kasule Lumumba, Ugandan Prime Minister, DR. Ruhakana Rugunda welcomed the IPOD dialogue mission and reiterated government’s commitment and openness to engage with the opposition political actors. Nathan Nandala Mafabi, the Secretary General of the FDC and current chair- IPOD underscored the central responsibility of the political parties in leading the dialogue process. The leading party officials concurred on the need to address exiting political questions, whilst attending to broader development issues and day to day needs of Ugandans and the plight of marginalized groups.

The conference, the first major national reflection event on the 2016 elections and the subsequent political environment offered a platform for level headed dialogue and contribution towards healing from the electoral related processes whilst generating ideas for a peaceful and constructive way forward. It also supported the process of rumination that allowed learning from the previous elections and provided a consensus on the need for a more inclusive dialogue that increases the prospect of a positive impact on Uganda’s multi-party democracy.

The evolving national peace policy, currently forerun by the office of the Prime Minister was seen as a timely tool for reconciliation and sustainable peace building; the IPOD political parties committed to making an input to the policy’s development. Recognition was made of diverse efforts around political dialogue. In this regard, IPOD members pledged to avail space to its actors to connect with political leaders- as the eventual decision maker-in a process that ultimately seeks to build a vibrant multi-party democracy that function under the motivation “putting Uganda first”.

The conference ended with a renewed commitment by political parties to dialogue in dealing with the immediate political contestations and for the long-term nurturing of a sustainable multi-party democracy. Participants furthermore moved to embrace an inclusive approach, which will see IPOD engaging more actively with Civil society, the country’s elders, religious leaders, and the relevant government departments in fostering a shared agenda for political and policy change. Founded in 2009, the Interparty Organization Dialogue is a platform for dialogue of parliamentary political parties in Uganda.