Ugandan party leaders, including President Yoweri Museveni and the leaders of three opposition parties, met yesterday in Entebbe for wide-ranging political dialogue. The Leaders’ Summit was facilitated by the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD), supported by NIMD. This was the second meeting of its kind, following a first Leaders’ Summit held last December. The topics discussed included funding for political parties, reforms to the electoral system, regulations around independent parliamentary candidates, and the implementation of the controversial Public Order Management Act (POMA).

Left to right: NRM General Secretary Justine Lumumba, NRM Chair and President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, UPC President Jimmy Akena.

 

Agreements made despite FDC absence

As in previous meetings, all of Uganda’s parliamentary political parties were invited to attend, with only the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) deciding to not attend. Despite their absence, the delegates were able to agree new funding rules that increase state support provided to political parties. The leaders also agreed a framework for electoral reforms, which will preclude a national debate on whether Uganda will adopt first-past-the-post or proportional electoral systems.

Despite a delayed arrival from President Museveni, delegates were able to speak for several hours.

 

Thirdly, the leaders found consensus on how to regulate independent candidates in elections. This is in response to a growing phenomenon in Uganda, whereby individuals who lost party primaries would use personal assets to sign up as an independent candidate and contest the election anyway, effectively bypassing the party system. IPOD delegates agreed rules that advise independent candidates must have resigned from their party at least 12 months before an election, and primary losers would not be allowed to contest the related election as independents.

Leaders looking to maintain public order

The Summit’s conclusion on POMA was to have further discussion on the new regulations of the Act. The legislation, which covers groups’ rights to hold public rallies and other such political activities, is an especially salient issue given the continued FDC non-attendance at IPOD. The FDC, Uganda’s largest opposition party, said they would not attend IPOD Summits until there was action on what they claim is state interference in their campaigning. The party leaders in Entebbe agreed securing FDC attendance at IPOD must be a top priority ahead of the next Summit.

The Summit began much later than scheduled due to the late arrival of NRM leader Yoweri Museveni, who blamed conflicting arrangements in the Northern town of Arua for the delay. The Summit ended up running for almost 6 hours, with delegates talking until 11.30pm.

Party representatives from the four attending parties in Entebbe. Left to right: Democratic Party President Norbert Mao, JEEMA’s Muhammad Kibirige Mayanja, NRM Chair and President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni, UPC President Jimmy Akena.

 

The Summit concluded with the issuing of a joint communiqué from the parties. There was agreement that any post-Summit follow up actions, including finalizing consultations on the draft regulations for the POMA and approval of a draft code of conduct for political parties, should be concluded within two months. A date of 20 July was set to review progress.

Click here to download the full IPOD Communiqué.

 

Last week, NIMD signed an agreement with Jordan’s Ministry of Political and Parliamentary Affairs (MoPPA), giving us the go ahead to launch our Jordan School of Politics.

The School of Politics

This political education and capacity building programme will provide young politicians with the knowledge and skills they need to positively and actively engage in political parties and politics in general. It will target politically active youth who are either members of political parties or other political forms.

Through the Jordan Schools of Politics, NIMD we will aim to build constructive dialogue and critical thinking among the participating young politicians. Such activities will include political dialogue meetings, where experts and politicians will be invited to discuss relevant political issues with the participants, as well as exchange visits to both Arab and European countries.

The School of politics will also focus on women’s participation in political life in Jordan, as a key value in all NIMD Jordan’s activities.

The signing

The MoU was signed by H.E Eng. Musa Ma’aytah, Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs and Eng. Rami Adwan, the NIMD’s Jordan Country Representative. The signing was attended by Dr. Ali Alkhawaldeh, MoPPA’s Secretary General, and teams from both MoPPA and NIMD.

NIMD’s Schools

The School of Politics in Jordan will be the part of our network of Democracy Schools around the world.

At NIMD, we believe that if we want political actors to work in the interests of their citizens; if we want them to be accountable, break down barriers to women and minorities and strive for inclusiveness… then they need to have the skills, knowledge and networks to do so. Our Democracy Schools help the next generationof leaders learn these skills and knowledge, and put them into practice as leaders.

NIMD is very pleased to see its Dialogue for Stability (DfS) featured in the most recent edition of the Journal of Peacebuilding and Development. In their paper, Promoting Inclusive Governance More Effectively: Lessons From the Dialogue for Stability Programme, authors Alina Menocal, Greg Power, and Olivia Kaye ask why promoting inclusive governance is so challenging and whether DfS can provide lessons for others.

Their appraisal of the programme highlights some important successes, as well as providing several insights that will help us improve the programmes efficacy in the coming years. You can view the full article here.

DfS is a five-year programme, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that NIMD has managed since 2016. The DfS programme is carefully designed to support inclusive political reforms in Burundi, Colombia, Jordan, Tunisia, and Ukraine.

The authors wrote the paper based on a Mid-Term Review they had conducted of DfS at the request of NIMD.

NIMD’s partner in Uganda, the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD), has announced details for its next Leaders’ Summit. The meeting will be the second of its kind, following the landmark first Leaders’ Summit in late 2018. The topics to be discussed at the Summit include the Public Order Management Act (known as POMA), electoral reforms, regulation of independent candidates, and public funding for parties. All four areas are chosen to ensure healthy coexistence of parties in the country as it builds its multiparty governance system. Party leaders shall then issue a joint statement after the Summit, outlining what progress was made on each of these key reform areas.

Left to right: DP President General Nobert Mao, Jeema President Asuman Basalirwa, NRM National Chairman Mr Museveni and UPC President Mr. Jimmy Akena at the IPOD Leaders’ Summit last December.

 

The attendance of the four leaders present at the December conference has been confirmed for the 20 May summit. However, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has issued a statement saying it would again avoid the talks. They allege that their legitimate political activities are still subject to the same obstacles that led to their non-attendance in 2018. Nonetheless they have been involved in the agenda-setting process for the 20 May talks, which all five member parties have signed off on.

Party Secretaries General met in Kampala last month to discuss the controversial POMA legislation, a topic that will be discussed by leaders in May.

 

Organizers had originally planned to host the event on 15 May in the northern city of Lira, but have moved the event to the 20 May and changed the location more central Entebbe. The move was to ensure the attendance of president Yoweri Museveni, whose team said had important preexisting commitments for 15 May.

Follow IPOD on social media to stay up to date on its work in Uganda.

 

When alumni from the Tunisian School of Politics visited our friends at DEMO Finland in Helsinki last year, we asked them what they’d learned from their courses. Check out the video below to see what they said!

The Tunisian Context

The ramifications of the Arab Spring are still widely felt almost a decade on. The unprecedented scale and strength of protests was like nothing the region had seen before, and regime after regime fell or gave concessions.

Protesters’ demands for democratization were met with varying degrees of success, but one example often cited as highly successful was that of Tunisia. The Tunisian Revolution, also known as the ‘Jasmine Revolution’, led to the 2011 ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, after 23 years in power. The new constitution agreed afterwards is widely regarded as one of the most progressive in the Arab world.

NIMD’s work in Tunisia

Since then, new political parties and activists have been make a foray into political affairs. As the democratic space opened up, NIMD began working to support political actors in 2012 and has remained highly active in the country ever since.

A core aspect of what we do in Tunisia is providing young politicians training through the The Tunisian School of Politics (TSoP). TSoP was founded by NIMD and Demo Finland in 2012, with our implementing partner Centre des Études Méditerranéennes Internationales (CEMI). By the end of 2018, 11 cohorts of politicians (approximately 400 people) had completed a programme with TSoP.

Last December, some of the TSoP graduates visited Demo Finland in Helsinki for a special week of training and exchange sessions to boost their political skills. We asked them for their reflections on what TSoP has given them, and we’ve very pleased to share their thoughts in the video below.

If you’d like to know more of our work in Tunisia, visit the Tunisia programme page.

Last month in Kampala, Ugandan political parties came together for the next phase in the dialogue process following the landmark IPOD Leaders’ Summit last year. Secretaries General from all five of Uganda’s parliamentary parties were in attendance, along with the Attorney General and several other senior government ministers. On the agenda was the implementation of the Public Order management Act 2013, or POMA for short, amid opposition allegations the law was being used to stifle their activities.

Following five hours of talks, the parties jointly issued a statement committing to a 10-day review of POMA’s implementation under the auspices of the Attorney general. The review, chaired by the Democratic Party’s Gerald Siranda, will recommend new rules for the implementation of POMA.

Why POMA matters to Ugandan politics

The contention around POMA derives from how authorities have enacted the legislation. Within the text of the law, there is a passage asking that political groups and actors must contact the police in regard to upcoming events and activities. The disagreement is based around the legal interpretation of this passage. Some say it mandates simply notifying the police, while others say it legislates for police permission being required for parties’ activities to go ahead. Many in Uganda’s political opposition saw this is a way for police to be used by the government as a tool for breaking up their rallies and other legitimate activities. As a major sticking point between parties, IPOD’s tackling of POMA’s implementation should help safeguard the ability for each party to canvass in peace.

NIMD’s Country Representative for Uganda, addresses IPOD delegates.

 

How the parties came to this agreement

The agenda for this meeting was decided at the end of 2018 by the five party leaders, who came together in December at the IPOD Leaders’ Summit. The aim of the summit was to agree an agenda for future talks, which paved the way for a series of meetings in the subsequent months. The widely publicized arguments over POMA gave it prominence on the agenda for many IPOD parties, and indeed for groups across wider Uganda.

What the parties will do next

After the meeting a select committee, consisting of the Attorney General, the Secretaries General of the Political Parties, and Frank Rusa, NIMD’s Country Representative for Uganda, was convened to develop regulatory guidelines to improve POMA’s implementation. During a retreat in early May the select committee developed its recommendations, which are to be presented to the Prime Minister and IPOD Council of Secretaries General on 7 May. They will also make other recommendations to ensure the law is implemented smoothly.

A major sticking point in the POMA legislation, the permission vs notification argument, was also acted on after consultation between the Attorney General, Ministry of Internal Affairs, and police force. Much to the relief of Uganda’s political parties, the Attorney General rules that the law requires organizers to notify, rather than seek permission of, the police to hold their activities. Law enforcement agencies will receive information and training on this ruling in the coming days.

On 23-25 April, NIMD had the pleasure of joining the 26th Plenary Meeting of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Network on Governance (GovNet).

This network brings together governance practitioners and experts to explore and promote more effective governance in developing countries. As such, the plenary meeting was an excellent opportunity for NIMD to exchange experiences and lessons with other organizations in our field; and contribute to the development of policy, analytical tools and operational approaches.

The meeting focused on how to work towards accountability and good governance, in order to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. These are the objectives set out in UN Sustainable Development Goal 16.

As part of the event’s objective of exploring better and different ways for development assistance providers to do their work, NIMD was invited to present the findings of the Mid-Term Review of our Dialogue for Stability programme.

This was a unique opportunity to share our experience and good practices with others in the field.

Click here to download NIMD’s full presentation to the Govnet Plenary.

Ugandan political parties have agreed to meet again in Kampala on Thursday 25 April, following last December’s IPOD Party Leaders’ Summit in Kampala. The meeting, convened by NIMD’s partner in Uganda, the Interparty Organization for Dialogue (IPOD), will bring together the Secretaries General of the five parties currently represented in Uganda’s legislature.

The agenda for this round of dialogue will be dominated by the implementation of Public Order Management Act (POMA), which will be reviewed by the parties as well as academics and other political stakeholders. POMA is an act which provides a regulatory framework for public assemblies and grants the police powers to deny and disperse public meetings.

Since its signing in 2013, POMA has been criticized by some opposition parties in the country, who say it is stifling their ability to convene meetings and rallies. The aim is for the dialogue to produce recommendations which can relieve tensions around POMA.

National and international media descended on Kampala in 2018 to see the results of the leaders’ summit.

 

Building on the Leaders’ foundations

Reviewing POMA was a part of the agenda agreed between participants at last year’s IPOD Leaders’ Summit, which was attended by the heads of all parties, including the President. Despite the absence of the largest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), the dialogue agenda produced during the November Summit was agreed to by the FDC and has led parties to this next stage of talks. The conclusions from this week’s dialogue, which all parties including FDC will attend, will be presented to party leaders during a second leaders’ summit scheduled for May.

IPOD’s newest member, the Justice Forum, was welcomed back by IPOD member parties following a return to the national legislature in the 2018 elections.

 

NIMD and IPOD

Hosted and facilitated by NIMD, IPOD was set up in 2009 to bring together all political parties represented in Parliament, to foster a strong and vibrant multiparty democracy in Uganda based on the need for peaceful co-existence of all citizens and the aspiration to work harmoniously.

The platform brings together all of Uganda’s parliamentary political parties. As equal members of the platform, these parties all have an equal voice. Its membership comprises the Justice Forum (JEEMA), Democratic Party (DP), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM)

The parties are also represented in the IPOD council, the platform’s main guiding body. As such they jointly decide on the way forward for the organization.

NIMD is proud to launch our new corporate video. Through this video, we hope to give an insight into what we do and why that works.

At NIMD, we believe a better future relies on effective and inclusive politics.That’s why we are working towards a peaceful democratic future; one where people’s voices are heard; companies want to invest; and people can be who they want to be.

This blog is by Mirjam Tjassing, NIMD’s country representative in Mali. Before joining NIMD, Mirjam worked as a diplomat for the Netherlands and published a book about the crisis in Mali, entitled Mali: Een Kaartenhuis (Mali: A House of Cards). Mirjam will be discussing her book and Malian politics at this year’s Afrikadag on 13 April in Amsterdam. Here she tells the story of what led her to write the book and share Mali’s political history.

In 2012 I moved from Burkina Faso to Mali to work as a political affairs officer at the Netherlands Embassy. Barely two weeks after my arrival, a rebellion broke out in the north, followed by a coup in Mali’s capital, Bamako. These were busy times for a political affairs officer; it was of the utmost importance to understand what was happening in Mali so we could determine what the Embassy could do to help stabilize the situation. In other words: I was thrown in at the deep end and I had to build up a large network quickly.

During the post-coup transition period, everyone tried to understand how things could have come this far. There was a large consensus that the culprits were corruption and nepotism, as well as the consensus politics of President Touré. These politics, which tried to give everyone a seat at the table of power and bought off opposition, had ultimately completely silenced public debate. During the transition period there was therefore much talk about thoroughly reforming the state. But who had the legitimacy to implement such reforms? Many felt the unelected government, which was strongly influenced by the military following the coup d’etat, was not. So the international community pressed for elections. But without reforms, the old system that had led to the rebellion and the coup was able to creep back in after the elections.

The coup led to the ousting of Mali’s then-president Amadou Toumani Touré (European Parliament – Flickr)

 

Once elections had taken place in 2013, all attention was focused on a solution to the ongoing crisis in the north. Tellingly, there was hardly any mention of state reform anymore. In the meantime, foreign diplomats succeeded each other at a rapid pace, because Mali had suddenly become a hardship posting from which people would move on after a short time. And so, the need for reform was wiped from the collective memory of the international community, and everyone fixed their attention on brokering a deal between the government and the armed groups. Again, there was hardly any room for the voice of the people. The message was clear: if you want to achieve something, democratic institutions don’t deliver much. You achieve more with weapons. This context allowed insecurity to spread to the centre of Mali.

After receiving training by UNMAS staff, the MINUSMA EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) Company from Cambodia leaves Bamako Airport to be deployed to Gao, North of Mali in 2014. (United Nations Photo – Flickr)

 

Encouraged by a colleague from the embassy, ​​I decided to write my book Mali, een Kaartenhuis. I wanted to highlight the need for Malian society to make the voice of its people heard and to reform its state institutions. And it was clear that the best way to do this was to tell this story mainly through the voices of Malians themselves. My book is not “the story of how it really works.” It is the story of what I have understood through years of conversations with Malian politicians, officials, researchers, students, traditional leaders, artists, activists, storytellers, drivers, and street vendors of Mali. And this is what I would like to share with you. Firstly because Mali is such a fantastic country, but also because Mali is closer to Europe than we think, and we are reliant on each other for a peaceful future.

Mirjam’s talk at Afrikadag takes place on 13 April at 11.30 in the ‘Marmeren Hal’ of the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT) in Amsterdam.