By Goodluck Musinguzi
A multi-media campaign “I Choose Peace for Today and Tomorrow” has been launched in Kampala Capital City by Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) and its local partners the political parties with representation in Parliament.
At a colorful ceremony at Serena International Conference Center ran by Serena Hotel, leaders of all political parties pledged to Choose Peace in the coming elections.
Frank Rusa, Country Representative of NIMD said “I CHOOSE PEACE FOR TODAY AND TOMORROW” is a multimedia campaign supposed to rally Ugandan citizens to embrace peaceful but vigilant participation in the forthcoming general elections in Uganda.
We reproduce SPEECH FOR THE NIMD COUNTRY REPRESENTATIVE/ IPOD EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, MR. FRANK RUSA AT THE UNVEILING OF THE “I CHOOSE PEACE” CAMPAIGN AT THE KAMPALA SERENA HOTEL, KAMPALA ON 24th NOV 2020
Ten years ago, the political parties with representation in the 8th Parliament, on their own initiative approached the Netherlands Institute for multiparty Democracy in the Hague Netherlands to explore avenues of initiating and facilitating an interparty dialogue platform in Uganda.
NIMD accepted the honor and worked very hard with the leaders of the six political parties to set up the interparty organization for Dialogue (IPOD) in 2010 as a platform to promote interparty cooperation, mutual trust and to build synergies to strengthen multiparty democracy in Uganda.
This was well aligned with the vision and mission of NIMD because NIMD was established by seven political parties from across the Dutch political spectrum with the aim of supporting emerging democracies through a multiparty approach.
Accommodating competing voices and embracing diversity. NIMD believes that real and sustainable change starts with investing in effective politics. That is why we work towards peaceful societies where institutions are strong and the politics works for the people regardless of their gender, religion or background.
For the last 10 years, this is what we have been doing in Uganda; nudging political parties to work together, creating safe spaces for interparty dialogue, building peer to peer bridges between political leaders in Uganda and their counterparts in other African countries, strengthening the organizational capacities of political parties through various aspects of technical support, among others
We are happy that political parties have made tremendous progress on the front of building trust among themselves; working together to resolve problems among themselves and crafting solutions together. In this regard, what comes to mind is the great work that was done by the political parties working together to develop new regulations to improve the Public order management law.
A number of impressive works have been done through the cooperation of political parties working together to put Uganda first as the IPOD slogan goes.
It is against that background that when the secretaries General of the Political Parties proposed that NIMD as the secretariat of IPOD leads a campaign to call on all Ugandans to embrace peaceful participation in electoral politics, NIMD found it not only relevant but very timely!
As you may have all noted, last week, across the country, we witnessed very disturbing images that could spell much more trouble for the future if nothing tangible is done to intervene at this time and deliberately preach a message of peace.
We saw armed forces against civilians, civilians against armed forces and civilians against each other; lives were lost, property damaged, civil unrest, tribalistic statements and innuendos were issued on social media, hate speech etc. very unfortunate developments! Over 45 people lost their lives.
The pain of the family members of these departed souls should be a call to all of us to do all within our means to stem this unfortunate trend.
It goes without saying that before us is an opportunity to deliberately work towards putting all this to an end. With our platform we have a chance to make history in the narrative of our country, a journey to peaceful elections and it is the responsibility of every political party and every citizen of good will in this country.
Now more than ever, Uganda is hungry for a solution, for an end to chaos and mayhem, to riots and bullets, to teargas and to death, Uganda is ready for a new message, a new direction and a new slogan. As the leaders of the parties Ugandans ascribe to, we owe it to our supporters to call for peace which is engrained in our very ethos as a country, but it is only achievable if we collaborate as political parties and leaders towards pushing this singular message of peace, not of divisive politics.
The message we need every young person, every individual, every family, every party every institution, every Ugandan to sing and hold to their heart is the message of I CHOOSE PEACE.
Today, we launch the #IChoosePeace campaign through strategic and impactful partnerships and efficient communications, which we believe we can enable us achieve a peaceful and violence-free election environment in Uganda.
To the young people of Uganda, please remember that the future belongs to you but for you to inherit it you need to be alive, healthy and strong. There will be Uganda after elections. Do not be tempted to look for quick solutions through violence because the world all over violence as never been a solution.
It is in fact a cause for more problems. We have seen societies and countries that were once normal descend into chaos that lasts generations because of violence. What we need is a message of peace, a message of mutual tolerance, a message of restraint and our message should be: I CHOOSE PEACE TODAY AND TOMORROW
As I conclude, I urge each and every one of us here to take on the mantle of preaching the message of peace and non-violent action as it concerns and affects every civilian in the country. If the message is shared, we can all achieve the desired result to keep everyone safe as they exercise their democratic rights.
Finally, I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the Partners and especially IPOD council members for supporting this most important initiative and to our staff at NIMD and partners handling the communication strategy for this well-thought initiative
Thank you and looking forward to a peaceful election season.
God bless Uganda!