Monday, June 5, 2017

{UAH} Cracks emerge in Akena?s UPC

Cracks emerge in Akena's UPC

UPC faction leader Jimmy Akena (right) receives

UPC faction leader Jimmy Akena (right) receives a medal from President Museveni on behalf of his father, former president Milton Obote. FILE PHOTO 

By Stephen Kafeero & Shabibah Nakirigya

The declaration of Jimmy Akena as Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) party president in 2015 effectively divided the party into two major factions. But the faction he leads has also splintered.
The latest group to disagree with Mr Akena is led by Mr Higenyi Kemba, who until his suspension recently on allegations of leaking party secrets, was the chief administrative secretary of the Akena faction and at one time a trusted confidant of the UPC faction leader.

The genesis, party officials who disagree with Mr Akena say, is his more than cosy relationship with the ruling National Resistance Movement party and particularly President Museveni which their UPC seeks to replace.

Mr Akena does not deny the meetings with Mr Museveni, which he says are not aimed at mortgaging his UPC to the incumbent, but are intended to discuss the future of Uganda.
In an interview with Sunday Monitor, Mr Kemba said he was approached ahead of the UPC party elections in 2015 by Mr Akena who sold to him an "attractive agenda" of building party structures.

Mr Kemba says he helped to sell Akena to UPC members even after the members questioned his allegiance to UPC and what the party stood for.

Ahead of the 2016 general election, Akena's UPC conducted an evaluation and decided not to field a presidential candidate. The faction was now faced with a choice of who to back for the presidency of the three main presidential candidates; President Museveni, former prime minister Amama Mbabazi and Opposition leader Kizza Besigye.

A decision was taken to present the Akena UPC agenda to all the three main candidates and, depending on their responses, the group's leaders would meet and decide on which candidate to back. 
The team met Mr Mbabazi and his team first; they also met with a delegation from FDC but did not meet Dr Besigye who they scheduled to see later.

Their plan was, however, abandoned after it emerged that Mr Akena and some members of his inner circle had moved from the original plan and decided to support President Museveni even before the group's delegation met with Mr Museveni.

At the time, Mr Akena insisted that the talks with NRM were just part of a series of engagements with different political parties. But members of a group that has separated from his faction say that is far from the truth.

"We realised, quite late that our president had been talking behind our backs with Museveni. We have been squabbling with that matter since and I and other party members refused to support Museveni," Higenyi says.

The height of the disagreement, according to some UPC members, was when NRM officials became uncomfortable with criticism from Uganda House, the home of its "friend".

The death of Mr Akena's vice president Patrick Mwondha last year and secretary general Edward Ssegane early this year only made things worse. The two are said to have acted as a voice of calm in the faction.

With the two senior leaders out of the way, disagreements only increased. Mr Kemba says the party assistant secretary general Fred Ebil, working with the full knowledge of Mr Akena, moved to uproot the anti-NRM/Museveni people in the party.

"The party did not have any alliance; the party has never officially talked to NRM. What is there is a personal agreement between Jimmy Akena and Museveni. For us the party works through its organs," Mr Kemba says.

Mr Akena, however, insists he is pursuing dialogue with the incumbent and not any personal interests. He adds that whatever comes out of his talks with Mr Museveni and NRM will be submitted to the party organs for consideration because he does not have any authority to enter any binding agreement.

"Abusive language and pretence are not going to solve the problem, let's face the reality and look for the solution; this not about money. I am trying to secure the future of the country and I am not going to hold on to the mistakes which happened when I was a kid," Mr Akena said.
However, those against Mr Akena say by "continuing to do Museveni and NRM work", Mr Akena is laying ground for his removal.

Mr Akena argues that his helm at UPC is premised on something larger than UPC—the stability of Uganda and the future of her children.

Ugandans, Mr Akena says, should not be occupied with internal squabbles of political parties but the question of how to guarantee stability beyond 2021. President Museveni is serving his last constitutionally mandated term. By 2021 when Uganda is scheduled to have an election, Mr Museveni will be 77 and ineligible to contest.

Mr Akena and others argue that there should be a discussion on how to have a peaceful transfer of power.

"The issue which I am putting here which some people want to play jokes with is how are we Ugandans going to handle 2021; the end of Museveni's presidency or the continuation of his presidency and if we do not handle it properly, how is Uganda going to be in future?" Mr Akena asks.
Whether Akena's strategy pays off is unclear, but what is certain for now is that his faction is split right in the middle.

History of UPC

The first serious split within the UPC since the 1964 delegates' conference in Gulu began in late 2010. That was when the former ambassador to the United Nations Olara Otunnu returned home after 25 years in self-imposed exile and announced he would seek the party presidency.
For five years, Otunnu was UPC president and Akena was a kind of leader of the opposition in the UPC.

When Otunnu announced he would not seek a second term as party leader, Akena became the front runner to succeed him. 
Controversy erupted over procedure and how Akena had been elected. The pro-Otunnu faction of the UPC rejected Akena's election, declared it unconstitutional and once again the UPC was publicly at war.


Gwokto La'Kitgum
"Even a small dog can piss on a tall building" Jim Hightower

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