Whatever happens to the UPC – at least for now – the party is basically finished. With the recent High Court ruling of Justice Yassin Nyanzi, disbanding Jimmy Akena’s claim to the party presidency, the issues surrounding the party and its members, are basically thrown back to the drawing board.
This is especially because the general elections, for all intents and purposes, are round the corner, and the party is sorely, either divided, or the Electoral Commission (EC), is adding to the confusion by now questioning the veracity of its candidates who had registered to contest the polls, to participate in the same.
Even when Akena is saying that he is going to appeal the Nyanzi ruling, and assuming Akena is re-instated at the helm of UPC, the time element to the general and parliamentary elections, slated for the late February next year, would militate against the party putting up a credible show in the exercise. This is pathetic for a party that brought independence to this country.
By the High Court ruling, and in the judgment of the people’s court, Akena was simply an impostor, who had tried to overthrow the proper process of selecting a successor to Dr. Olara Otunnu. In this, he was helped by NRM’s President Yoweri Museveni, who would certainly wish to see the demise of UPC, for his own ulterior motives and certainly to put a final nail to the coffin of the late UPC President, Dr. Milton Obote, for whom he had no kind words.
Akena subverted the party process of selecting district delegates to the conference that was to vote in the next president. He capped his insurrection in the party by bulldozing his way to the party headquarters at Uganda House, and in the process, his sidekicks nearly throwing Otunnu down the staircase from the 6th Floor.
Then, with NRM’s assistance, he brought in the Police to guard the front gate of Uganda House and the entrance to the party offices. Up to now, the Kale Kaihura Police is there, and apparently unfazed by the Nyanzi ruling. In this Monday’s press conference, Otunnu could only feebly say that the matter of the security presence in the party offices would be referred to the disciplinary committee that would decide on the eviction of the Police. But with Museveni’s and Kaihura’s backing, it is difficult to see how Akena’s UPC will be forcefully evicted, even if the disciplinary committee employs the services of the bailiffs.
The other factor making the UPC basically a moribund party, especially for the coming elections, is that with Akena off the pedestal of the party, there is now no time for s future delegates’ conference to select a president and for that in-coming president to organize the party for the election. Moreover, the EC is saying that it will have to re-evaluate the people the party is going to put forth for the parliamentary candidates.
For now, putting forth a UPC presidential candidate is on the rocks. For one Akena, even if his UPC had been upheld by the court, it would have been useless for the party, since Akena has already sworn allegiance to Museveni’s NRM. In fact, even when he is standing for the Lira Municipality constituency, it is not seen as UPC, but for NRM. For another, Otunnu has already declared allegiance to TDA, which now increasingly looks like Amama Mbabazi’s Go Forward. So, UPC is askance between either, NRM or, TDA; then, where is UPC?
For all intents and purposes, Museveni has destroyed the UPC. The next organization of the delegates’ conference should be the start of building the party up from its bootstrap grassroots. In fact, even before Otunnu and company now start thinking of the party elections, attention should turn to building solid party structures from the grassroots. Otunnu should revisit the templates that the International Republican Institute (IRI), had originally helped the party to develop towards establishing a solid party’s structure.
In other words, UPC should consider itself off limits for the next elections and leave the other parties to contest it while concentrating on its own affairs. For the members of the party who are on the coattails of either, Go Forward or NRM, they should see their role as temporary while they go about resuscitating the party for the future.