By Faridah Lule.
Behind Jimmy Akena’s newfound alliance with Kale Kaihura, (See “Kayihura accused of backing Akena” Observer May 16th) might have been a simplistic idea to avoid the almost annual teargas-saturated battles against the establishment.
Tear gas is known as “a lachrymatory agent, a chemical weapon that causes severe eye, respiratory, skin irritation, pain, vomiting, increased salivation, coughing, difficulty in breathing, excessive tearing, vision blurs and blindness.”
It stimulates the nerves of the lacrimal gland to produce tears. Lachrymatory agents are commonly used for riot control. Both tear gas and pepper spray are skin irritants, according to Demilitarize Health and security.
Now that we understand the effects, would any one stand to blame Akena’s moves? Yes, still, because indeed UPC has stood the test of time and built an identity more enduring than teargas anxieties.
Whereas an alliance is not an inherently bad thing, the manner it was executed raises more questions than answers. Uganda Peoples Congress is a party with structures, elders, lawyers and the constitution to guide.
The bothering question now is, who else represented Uganda house when Akena and Nakasero were bargaining slots? My guess is that these negotiations most probably happened within the confines of Jimmy Akena’s residence, with drinks served by his minister-elect wife, Betty Amongi.
According to UPC’s lawyer Peter Walubiri, court annulled Akena’s leadership in 2015 and Justice Musota confirmed Olarra Otunnu as President until fresh elections.
More disappointing now is the fact that UPC has two parallel administrations; one led by Akena, Milton Obote’s son, and the other by former UN undersecretary general, Olara Otunnu.
Whatever happened to the court ruling? Who by law is negotiating for UPC’s legacy? Anyone has offers for the party? If there is indeed respect for rule of law, why did President Museveni decide to undermine the rightful leadership by pursuing conversations with an individual? Where does this leave Uganda’s opposition, these are the things that generate apathy among our politically interested young people, they wonder about the possibility of being traded in a political identity.
Democratic party for example has failed to overcome personal interest all these years, why, up to now, do we have two separate functions from the Green and White party? Can we conclude that Museveni did not effectively give nod to multi-party dispensation or should we say the seekers of this system did not understand the setting of multi-party politics?
Wouldn’t it be great if we enjoyed our multiparty privilege of being able to choose from chocolate, vanilla, strawberry? Ugandan political parties have indeed failed to model enough integrity sufficient to inform our flavor choices. Jimmy Akena and co should never forget UPC has an identity and legacy to protect, for God’s sake! Forgetting this is the reason Jimmy Akena will go a long way in simply avoiding tear gas. We hope other parties are following the script.
The writer is the project Associate, Citizens’ Election Observation Network Uganda. CEON-U.