An oath for not partaking in any form of corruption was among the key highlights of the two-day retreat for leaders of the opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) party that concluded on Saturday at the Jinja-based Nile Resort Hotel.
The retreat was called to orient the party’s elected leaders and also evaluate its performance in the general elections as well as discuss their position on the election of the Speaker of the 11th Parliament and speakers of district and lower local governments.
Journalists were not allowed in most of the sessions of the retreat where the leaders who are waiting to assume their respective offices in May, agreed to take an oath committing to the NUP values and aspirations of Ugandans and not to engage in corruption tendencies.
This comes in the wake of reports that some of the party’s MPs had been compromised by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) months before taking up their seats in Parliament.
After a violent election, the NRM government is said to be looking for means of weakening NUP which emerged as the leading opposition party.
While opening the retreat on Friday, NUP president, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu cautioned the leaders to avoid lavish lifestyles, which he said might tempt them to accept inducements from the ruling party, and endanger their relationship with the electorates.
He warned that if they choose luxurious lifestyles, they might be compromised to ignore the core principles for which they were elected into their respective political offices.
He cautioned the leaders against purchasing expensive vehicles in the name of fitting into their new political offices but rather strive to address the need of their electorate to have a free society, which can enable them to access economic and political freedom.
At the end of the two days of candid discussions, the party failed to come up with a position on who it would back in the race for Speaker of Parliament.
Much as some of its members have already expressed support for Rebecca Kadaga, the Jinja meeting agreed to set up a five-member select committee to study the various factors at play and come up with recommendations on the best way forward.
“We agreed that there is no need to rush because as a party, we need to listen to what the Ugandans say; who among the candidates best represents the interests of Ugandans,” an MP who preferred not to be named said.
The party’s spokesman, Joel Ssenyonyi declined to name the composition of the committee saying that it is preferred that the committee works without attracting public attention.
“We actually formed two select committees, one will handle the issues relating to Parliament and the other will deal with the local governments knowing that we are dominating a number of local government councils. So, the committees will come up with a Modus Operandi that will guide us on how to steer the whole process,” Ssenyonyi said.
After the retreat, the party is expected to convene a national council meeting to consider constitutional amendments as well as choose the opposition leadership in Parliament.
Amending the NUP constitution was considered a matter of urgency after the current leadership discovered that the constitution they inherited from the Moses Kibalama group has “too many limitations.”
“We shall depend on a report by a committee headed by [Busiro East MP] Medard Lubega Sseggona which has been studying the constitution and suggest proposals for amendment,” a source said.