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Post by sol_drethedon on Fri Apr 05, 2013 7:06 pm


The developments in the military field strengthened the drive among the various political forces to create a broad unity to strengthen the military effort. Up to this point various efforts to create a national movement had failed. The last of the initiatives had been in Lusaka at which the Uganda National Movement was formed. That movement however did not succeed because the preparations and contacts made by the conference were inadequate. Moreover, no serious efforts had been made to analyze the real causes of disunity, so problems were glossed over and no rules for democratic methods of work with the conference were articulated, As a result, divisive forces and those bent on maintaining the status quo, were left with considerable room to manoeuvre and disrupt the new movement.

At the Lusaka experience, a splinter group called the Uganda Liberation Group(Zambia) (ULG(Z)) initiated fresh contacts with a view to holding another unity conference. This initiative, which was welcomed by all, was soon sabotaged by Dr. Obote. He apparently told the group that during his visit to England to fight his libel case, he had contacted various political forces who had agreed to unite with him, so the group should work with him instead the ULG (Z) apparently accepted this.

Others who were involved however opposed this type of unity, and instead insisted that the Lusaka initiative proceed within the order to enable a unity conference to held by Dr. Obote's position - no unity with 'reactionary groups' - was also resisted at various meetings between him and Prof. Nabudere. Their emphasis was that all anti-fascist forces must be brought together into a broad democratic front. But the Lusaka initiative did not take off because of Dr. Obote's manoeuvres.

When the war with Amin broke out new initiatives were made. In Dar es salaam in November a number of political groups met to review the unity efforts. As a result, an Ad Hoc committee for the promotion of unity among Ugandans was formed. The ad hoc committee issued an appeal to all Ugandans to discuss how to advance the changes that were taking place in Uganda as a result of the war, so they could be channeled into a positive direction. It called on all Ugandan political groups to promote co-operation and co-ordination among themselves, 'with a view to elaborating a common position' , and called them to help create conditions and consider seriously ways and means by which 'a single united democratic organization can be formed'.

This appeal was distributed widely., and a delegation was dispatched by the ad hoc committtee to meet Dr. Obote to discuss the appeal. Dr. Obote's reaction was that it was good to go on 'talking about unity', but that the military front was more important. The militarist approach permeated his whole thinking, and it is not surprising that an ad hoc committee he had formed for the alleged purpose of bringing about unity later failed, and was turned into one on 'war efforts'.

The desire for political unity was overwhelming, since all Ugandans who had the objective understanding of our situation realized that it was lack of democratic unity among them that had led to the military dictatorship. Efforts therefore continued towards creating a broadly based democratic unity.

In Nairobi, where a number of groups were in session, The Dar es salaam appeal was received well. Some of the groups present in Nairobi were from the U.S.A and Europe. Despite some opposition from the UPC elements in Nairobi, the meeting resolved to set aside our differences with a view to removing Amin's regime and system, establishing democratic processes in the country and strengthening Uganda's national independence. The Nairobi resolution also decided to set up an organizational committee, to co-ordinate all matters related to the implementation of the stated objectives, after full consultations with all Ugandan organizations. These contacts led to the formation of a consultative committee in Nairobi under the chairmanship of Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere.

The Dar es Salaam based Ad Hoc for the Promotion of Unity among Ugandans now worked closely with the consultative committee to call a unity conference. Various efforts by Dr. Obote, and later by the neo Trotskyists, failed. At this late hour, it was argued that only those groups with a fighting force should form a front. Yoweri Museveni who represented FRONASA on the Ad Hoc committee, insisted that his group and that of Dr. Obote, which 'controlled' Mbarara and Masaka respectively, and which constituted the 'two main fighting forces' , should merge their forces on a fifty-fifty basis, and that the two should the constitute a new movement which would expand to 'incorporate' other Ugandan groups.

This line of arguement was advanced when in fact it was clear to most people that our fighting forces were too small and ineffective to control any part in Uganda, let alone the two towns. It was well known that the Tanzanian People's Defense Forces were the only forces in effective control. Indeed Dr. Obote, in a joint letter with Otema Alimadi to Yoweri Museveni and Paulo Muwanga, with a copy to Ateker Ejalu, dated 11th March 1979, had declared; 'The reality of the situation at present in Uganda is that there is no Uganda force holding, on it's own, an area of Uganda.' Yet despite this admission, he proposed that the two groups form a political organization which would deal with the political and other aspects of the struggle, and in whose name pronouncements appertaining to the activities of the (united) force would be made. This was in response to FRONASA's proposals for 'a broadly based national unity'.

Actually none of these proposals answered the call of the day for a broadly based democratic organization of all Ugandan Organizations and groups on an equal basis. The two proposals separated the fighting forces from the rest. The former were elevated and the latter down-graded, despite the fact that neither of the two forces, controlled on their own any part of Uganda. This was reflected in Dr. Obote's demand in the same letter that the Ugandan Force be separated from the formation of a political organization. The intention of such a political organization if formed , was apparently not to bring the fighting forces under it's political control, but merely to act a an arm of the fighting force to deal with 'political' aspects' and issue 'pronouncements' in the name of that organization but with no political control.

This line of thought failed because it was narrow and could not have led to a broad based organization despite the claims. Efforts by the Ad Hoc committee and the consultative committee therefore went ahead, leading to the calling of the Moshi unity conference on 23-26 March 1979. All known Ugandan groups were invited, and were accorded recognition and credentials to attend the conference on a democratic basis based on equality of all the groups.

To be Continued


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