The High Court has excluded Erias Lukwago, the vice president of Buganda region for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) from a suit involving three members of the party who are seeking to block the national delegates conference.
The three individuals involved in this case are Arafat Ntale Mwanja, Jamal Wante, and Marlick Ssazi. Initially, scheduled for tomorrow, September 19, the extraordinary National Delegates conference was halted on Friday by civil division justice Esta Nambayo pending the determination of the main case challenging the conference.
The petitioners brought the case to court, alleging that the responsible offices have been excluded from the preparation and organization of the said extraordinary national delegates conference. They argue that the rushed scheduling and organization of the conference were done in bad faith, intending to embarrass the party and cause irreparable damage and loss.
The petitioners named FDC party president Patrick Oboi Amuriat, and secretary general Nathan Nandala Mafabi as respondents to their case. This challenge is in response to the communique issued on August 15 by FDC chairman Wasswa Birigwa. However, the main case was brought up on Monday afternoon for further hearing, held in a closed session.
Lawyers led by Lukwago entered, claiming to represent the party chairperson Birigwa, who is not a party to the application. This led the judge to remove them from the proceedings. Lawyer Julius Galisonga presented instructions indicating that he was representing all the respondents in the case.
This move, however, angered Lukwago and the party’s chief whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, as they had prepared submissions from Birigwa for the court. Both Lukwago and Nganda explained to journalists outside the court that the order to halt the extraordinary delegates conference does not apply to the conference called by Birigwa for the following day because he is not a party to the proceedings and cannot be condemned unheard.
They have vowed to attend the conference and have called on other delegates to do the same at Nature’s Green Beach in Busabala. Justice Nambayo has directed all parties to file written submissions starting from September and continuing until October 4, 2023, when they will return for a mention. Amuriat and Mafabi have distanced themselves from the conference, stating that it was not planned or budgeted for by the party.
This halt of the conference comes at a time when the party is divided into two factions. One faction is led by Amuriat and Nandala Mafabi, while the other is led by former FDC President Kizza Besigye, Kampala City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, and Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda.
Trouble and confusion within the party started when Birigwa, believed to have sided with Besigye’s group, accused the Mafabi-Amuriat group of receiving what they describe as ‘dirty state money.’
This alleged ‘dirty money’ is said to have been used by the party in the 2021 elections, and since then, the factions have been engaged in mudslinging as they vie for supremacy in the party, which will turn 20 years old in December 2024. Last week, Birigwa stated that the conference would proceed as planned. However, the police have indicated that they will not provide security for it and have advised FDC to seek a resolution from the courts to avoid potential clashes.
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