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Fact Finding Missions - Uganda

In April 2002 Kituo cha Katiba organised a Fact-finding Mission to Uganda, with the aim of seeking mediation between the two political groups and to offer some insights on how to avert the dismantling of the constitutional order in Uganda. The 1995 constitution of Uganda contains several progressive provisions such as a strong Bill of Rights with increased capacities for enforcement, and various provisions relating to popular representation and restriction on the arbitrary exercise of executive power. The above notwithstanding, entrenched in the 1995 constitution is the no-party Movement system of government, based on individual merit rather than on organised political action. 

The proponents of the multiparty political system in Uganda argue that the Movement system is detrimental to democracy and the protection of fundamental civil and political rights. Thus, the restriction of political parties under Article 269 of the constitution has implications for the fundamental human rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression. On the other hand, the proponents of the Movement system argue that it has the constitutional right and mandate of the people of Uganda as determined by the 2000 referendum on political systems. This controversy dominated the presidential campaign to such an extent that the president established a Constitution Review Commission. The mission was appreciated by the majority of respondents, who agreed that the political system is so central to the stability of Uganda that the situation should not be allowed to become conflictual, with no mechanism for peaceful dialogue. A minority denied the possibility of any impending crisis, but maintained that what was at stake was an unresolved debate.

The goal of the fact-finding mission was to seek a mediation between the two political groups and to offer some insights on how to avert the dismantling of the constitutional order in Uganda. It is hoped that the mission will facilitate a process of dialogue and tolerance and provide a forum for the amicable solution of the tensions in the country, as well as offer regional support for the current constitutional review process. In other words, the fact finding mission(s) was conceived out of genuine concern for East Africa as a region and the need for Uganda to succeed in its quest for progressive democratic order.

To initiate dialogue with all stakeholders with varied interests and differing views in order to form a rational opinion about the constitutional process in Uganda; To provide a mechanism and neutral forum for activists, academicians and politicians to engage in dialogue, self reflection and critical debate over constitutional development in Uganda and act as a conduit of negotiation between government and civil society; To provide regional support for constitutional development in the Uganda; To enable critical actors in the ongoing processes in the region to share experiences and learn from each others mistakes and best practices.

It was in the above spirit that Kituo cha Katiba organised a fact finding mission comprising distinguished personalities from Tanzania and Kenya, which took place from 15 to 19 April  2002. The delegation consisted of: Prof. Haroub Othman (Tanzania), Professor university of Dar es Salaam; Chairman, Zanzibar Legal Services Centre; and former UN Chief Technical Adviser, Office for the Promotion of Good Governance, Liberia. Head of the fact finding mission; Hon. Fatima Magimbi (Tanzania), former member of Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania for Chake Chake Constituency in Pemba and Official leader of the Opposition in Parliament; Prof. Kivutha Kibwana (Kenya), Professor of law, University of Nairobi and Executive Director of Centre for Law and Research International (CLARION): Ms. Kagwiria Mbogori  (Kenya), Executive Director of the International Commission of jurists, Kenya Chapter (ICJ-K); Mr Thomas Mihayo (Tanzania), Secretary General East Africa Law Society and President Tanganyika Law Society; Mr John Kiarie Njoroge (Kenya), Co-ordinator justice & Peace programme of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi.