The Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party is split down the middle. The subsequent developments, even before, and after the February general elections have seen to that.
After the interminable litigations in the courts of law that have pitted some party individuals against others, it has now culminated into two factions: one led by the outgoing elected president of the party, Olara Otunnu, against the presumptive elected president of a splinter group of the party, Jimmy Akena, the son of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, the founder of UPC..
The Otunnu faction is the mainstream of the party. It was as a result of the party polls carried out in 2010 before the general election of 2011 in which Otunnu was elected by all the party delegates as the UPC president.
In that contest Otunnu beat a host of contestants, including Jimmy Akena. This was the election carried out in the tradition of the constitution endorsed by the party before the Gulu party congress in 1964. This rightly followed in the footsteps of Milton Obote. So, Otunnu (now, UPC-Obote), rightly filled those steps.
The duration was, then, for a five-year term. But after 2010 the party constitution was amended to extend the party presidential term to seven years.
This notwithstanding, in 2015, Otunnu carried out a “grassroots elections” of the party meant to select delegates to the national congress that would elect the next substantive president of the party. In the process, Akena “hijacked” the process and fielded his own delegates that he organized to “elect” himself as the party president: this is the UPC-Akena.
Otunnu did not go ahead with the process of the delegates’ selection, meaning that this process needed to be redone to get the rightful delegates to the national congress.
Because of the “illegitimacy” of the Akena’s election, there has been an on-going rancour involving the occupancy of the party offices on the 6th floor of Uganda House; the position of who should actually be recognized by the Milton Obote Foundation (MOF), the substantive financial muscle of the party; and, the operation of the bank accounts of the party.
To occupy the party offices, Akena has employed the services of the Government Police militia, under the tutelage of the Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen, Kale Kayihura. These have prevented and locked out Otunnu and his adherents of the side of the UPC- Obote from conducting its party activities. And it has been sanctioned by the overall political force of the regime, the NRM party.
Indeed, recently, Akena has gone ahead to announce “the UPC party” (UPC-Akena) is going to enter into an alliance with the NRM. Even before the pact has been formalized, the results are visible.
Recently, Akena’s wife, Betty Amongi, was sworn into the next NRM cabinet as a minister. This followed her appointment by President Yoweri Museveni, to which, both she and her husband, assented.
Now, media reports are positing that Akena is in line to be named as the next Third Deputy Prime Minister. Needless to say, he is poised to accept that appointment subject to the obvious vetting and confirmation by the Parliament. So, the rigmarole will be completed.
Political pundits are fronting that this development is a throwback to 1965 when then Democratic Party (DP), Secretary General Basil Bataringaya, crossed over on the floor of Parliament to join the UPC. Obote subsequently appointed him as minister of Internal Affairs. But there, the parallels end.
Bataringaya did not travel with any arm of the DP. It duly reconstituted itself as a workable opposition party under Ben Kiwanuka, the President General of the party.
Now, however, it is a claimant to the party (UPC-Akena) headship who has “crossed over”; and in the process, the rightful Otunnu (UPC-Obote) is even prevented from reconstituting the party apparatus. There is an NRM Police sentry at the entrance of Uganda House, the headquarters of the party, stationed specifically to prevent Otunnu from accessing the party offices.
Otunnu has gone ahead to pass on the mantle of the party to his deputy, Joseph Bossa. In the process, he has announced that he is going to expel Akena from the party, as he has not been duly elected, despite his claims.
This is a feeble declaration that is actively being ignored by all the parties that subscribe to this chicanery. Because the NRM party, and its paraphernalia, is behind Akena-UPC, it will enforce the UPC party destabilization to its advantage even against all the legal precepts.