Uganda High Court Blocks FDC Extraordinary Conference

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The High court has issued an interim order blocking the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party extraordinary delegates conference.

Civil division judge Esta Nambayo on Friday issued the interim order blocking the conference which had been scheduled for September 19. A few weeks ago, three FDC party members; Arafat Ntale Mwanja, Jamal Wante, and Marlick Ssazi sued their party and its president Patrick Oboi Amuriat and secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi in the High court seeking to block the extraordinary delegates meeting communicated in an August 15, 2023 notice issued by the party chairman Wasswa Birigwa.

The petitioners said the responsible offices have been excluded from the preparation and organization of the conference, and that the clumsy manner in which it has been hurriedly scheduled and fixed is in bad faith and meant to embarrass the party and subject it to irreparable damages and loss.

They argue that as interested members of the party, the illegal resolutions that will inevitably arise from the contentious national delegates conference will violate their right to assemble and associate and destroy the party.

They claim that the conference does not pass the test of compliance with democratic principles enshrined in the constitution and it also violated section ten of the Political Parties and Other Organizations Act of 2005. This is on top of not showing where the conference would take place and the exclusion of treasurer general, secretary for mobilization, heads of caucuses, and committees from the preparation and organization of the conference.

The petitioners added that it will cause absurdity and constitutional crisis and even the register has not been updated after the new office bearers were elected and for now eight years, they have not had a national delegate’s conference. When the matter came up for hearing, Ivan Geofrey Mangeni, the petitioners’ lawyer, and Julius Galisonga, representing FDC reached a consent on the grounds that they needed to first sort out the confusion in FDC for the good of the party.

As such, the consent was endorsed and signed by Nambayo in the form of an order.

“By consent of counsel for the respondents, an interim injunction has been issued, halting and restraining the respondents jointly and severally, and or their servants, agents employees, transferees, and or any other person or body who may be claiming or acting under their instructions from holding extraordinary national delegates conference of the FDC scheduled for September 19th, 2023 till the final disposal of the main application for temporary injection or until further orders of this honorable court,” reads the order.

The case will return to court Monday September 18 for the hearing of the main case. Amuriat and Mafabi have since disassociated themselves from the conference, saying it was not planned or budgeted for by the party.

On Wednesday, police’s director of operations, AIGP John Nuwagira, said that the police will not provide security for the delegates’ conference. Nuwagira explained that the police received Birigwa’s letter seeking security protection for the summoned delegates’ conference on Monday this week. However, he also said that on Tuesday another letter was received from the party’s secretary general Nandala Mafabi challenging the conference.

FDC is currently embroiled in conflicts resulting from allegations that money from an unknown source was used in the 2021 general elections. However, the party’s elder’s forum dismissed the allegations after an independent investigation but this has not erased the accusations.

The party is currently split into two factions – with one faction led by Amuriat and Nandala while the other group is led by former FDC president Kizza Besigye, Kampala City lord mayor Erias Lukwago, and Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda.