Mr. Norbert Mao, the leader of the oldest political party in Uganda-DP
“It is not a question of numbers. If the National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs say Acholi should be declared a National Park because they have the numbers in parliament, then Acholi can easily be declared a National Park. That approach will not settle the political dust we have in Uganda”
“We should adjust ourselves to the constitutional provisions, but not the constitution adjusting to our wishes. The constitution should be our ‘shock absorbers’. Those amendments watered down decentralization. Should we amend the bible? That kind of move is a crude way of doing business”,
GULU-UGANDA: The President-General of Uganda’s oldest political party, the Democratic Party (DP), Mr. Norbert Mao, has said that Dictator President Yoweri Museveni is abusing the large numbers of Members of Parliament (MPs) belonging to his party to abuse and arbitrarily amend the 1995 Constitution to enable him rule for life.
“It is not a question of numbers. If the National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs say Acholi should be declared a National Park because they have the numbers in parliament, then Acholi can easily be declared a National Park. That approach will not settle the political dust we have in Uganda”, says Mao.
Mr. Mao made the remarks on Friday, December 15, 2017 while opening a public meeting organized in Acholi Inn, Gulu, by the Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue (IPOD) under the theme: ‘Putting Uganda First’; for leaders of political parties represented in the tenth Parliament, Civil Society and the media in Acholi and Lango sub-regions.
Founded in 2010, IPOD is a consortium of political parties represented in Parliament which includes Democratic Party-DP, Forum for Democratic Change-FDC, National Resistance Movement-NRM and Uganda Peoples’ Congress-UPC. It was initiated by development partners to ‘promote interparty dialogue and cooperation as a means for dealing with political differences and managing conflict without resorting to undemocratic means including violence; to foster and facilitate peaceful mitigation and resolution of conflicts within and between political parties, among other objectives’.
Mr. Mao cited that in 2005 alone, Mr. Museveni maneuvered 45 different amendments to the constitution which has ‘removed term limits, consolidated power of government to Mr. Museveni; he now makes thousands of appointments and has removed the power to own minerals underground from landowners and handed it to government.
“We should adjust ourselves to the constitutional provisions, but not the constitution adjusting to our wishes. The constitution should be our ‘shock absorbers’. Those amendments watered down decentralization. Should we amend the bible? That kind of move is a crude way of doing business”, says Mao
There is a debate currently going on in parliament to remove Article 102(b) from the constitution which bars anybody below 35 years and above 75 to stand for the position of president, and to extend the term of parliament from five to seven years. Museveni is now 73 and would not be legible to stand again in 2021 unless that amendment is passed.
Mr. Mao accused President Yoweri Museveni for frustrating the work of IPOD by refusing to attend its Summit meetings since it was founded but sends only junior officials who cannot make independent decisions concerning NRM party positions on IPOD issues.
He appealed to leaders of different political parties in Northern Uganda to put their political differences aside and work together to solve disputes among themselves for the good of the country.
“I believe we are all here because we serve our country. Let us stop thinking that political parties don’t matter in this country. Political parties are indispensible. IPOD was set up to settle disputes and disagreements among the different political parties and promote dialogue-dialogue on matter of Constitutionalism”, says Mao.
He revealed that when he first entered parliament in 1996, he and Mr. Daniel Omara-Atubo tabled a motion in parliament which took the suffering of the people in northern Uganda caused by the senseless war going on between government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) at a time when government didn’t want it investigated.
“We presented a minority report signed by only two of us. The beauty of democracy is that you stay in the arena. If you stay you eventually win the battle. I am pleased President Museveni agreed to talks. Today we have peace in northern Uganda. You cannot have dialogue with your friends only but with people who have hurt you too”, says Mao. “We believe that whether we like it or not, eventually we have to come together to table because we are guided by dreams of a better Uganda”.