Political Parties Unsure of Future of Independent Candidates

2763 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Uganda's political parties begin the delicate process of reconciliation or expulsion of members who chose to stand as independent candidates in the 2011 general elections

Uganda’s political parties are unsure about how to treat their members who opted to stand as independent candidates in the recent general elections.
The opinion is divided between those who want to expel the independents for ignoring orders for them to step down from the elections and those that want to make quick deals to ensure parliamentary and local council majorities.
Edward Kakonge, spokesperson of the Uganda People’s Congress, says expelling the independents is not an option for his party. He says it would deplete their numbers and bankrupt them.
Kakonge says the door of the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) remains open to the independents, particularly as they plan for the village council elections. He says the independents will be allowed to defend themselves both before the members and the UPC disciplinary committee.
The Forum for Democratic Change spokesperson, Wafula Oguttu, says addressing the case of the rebel independents is high on the agenda of the party’s National Executive Committee. He says each member will be called upon to justify his or her case for going it alone at the elections.
Wafula says the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) will only consider reconciliation once the National Executive Committee has made a ruling. The FDC may expel independents that serve in its national delegate’s conference.
Within the National Resistance Movement (NRM), the jury is still out. Mary Karoro Okurutu, the NRM spokesperson, says she cannot commit to a comment on the matter because with the elections just winding up, it is too early for the party to make a ruling.
The Democratic Party (DP) organized a retreat this week to discuss the case of the independents.
Kenneth Kakande, deputy spokesperson of DP, says the intention is to reconcile with independents who actively decampaigned party candidates during the elections. He says DP is also extending a hand of friendship to those who were openly opposed to the candidacy of the party president, Norbert Mao.
Top on the list of DP independents is presidential candidate, Samuel Lubega.
Lubega was unhappy with the conduct of the party elections that saw Mao elected into office and opted to stand on his own. He maintains that he is still a member of DP, but will not comply with any decisions of Mao’s administration.  Lubega plans to organize a meeting of his own National Executive Committee to chart a way forward.
The Mayor-elect of Kampala, Erias Lukwago, also went against his party’s decision that ruled against his candidacy. He says he is busy planning for his new office and hasn’t yet considered a future relationship with DP.
Only a handful of parties managed to steer clear of the independent candidates debacle. However those parties – the Social Democratic Party, the Justice Forum and the Conservative Party – have much smaller membership numbers than the mainstream parties.
Michael Mabikke, president of the Social Democratic Party, boasts that his party avoided a clash with independents because of its clear candidate selection procedures.