As election time approaches in the small, central-African nation of Uganda, civil unrest and displeasure with the status quo has created uncertainty as to who will be the one to take office in 2021. Like many other political entities in the country, the Ecological Party of Uganda understands that this is a chance to strike while the iron is hot.
The politics of Uganda have had a checkered history to say the least. Despots and military coups have ravaged the history of the nation. Current President, Yoweri Museveni, is surrounded by no shortage of controversy. Having been President of Uganda since 1985, Museveni has been accused of corruption, ignoring human rights, and even having been famously quoted as referring to gay people as “disgusting” during an interview with CNN. Museveni has also enacted several controversial constitutional amendments during his time in office, one example being the elimination of the presidential age limit of 75 in 2017, himself having been 73 years old at the time.
With the general election fast approaching, there have been a series of protests, calling for Museveni to be removed from office. CNN reported that between November 18th and 19th, around 300 protestors were arrested, and 16 were killed by police.
Amid the unrest, the Ecological Party of Uganda (EPU) looks to take advantage of the upcoming election to attract disgruntled Ugandans who are ready for change.
The Ecological Party of Uganda has been a small voice of green politics in the central African country, and has had trouble finding its footing. Though founded in 2005, the EPU has not fielded candidates since 2009, and has never won a seat in the Parliament of Uganda.
Regardless, the EPU looks to the future, and seeing the civil unrest towards current President Museveni, has made a recent push to gain support, and make their voices heard.
This election will be the first for EPU President, Charles Bbaale Lwanga. A former treasurer of the Eastern Africa Greens Federation, Bbaale was named President of the EPU in 2015, but was unable to secure a nomination for the electoral commission in the 2016 presidential election, a necessary step to run for office in Uganda.
Bbaale, after picking the nomination forms said, according to New Vision Uganda, that he will base his campaign on diversity, human rights, social justice and the creation of national employment agency, according to New Vision Uganda.
The Ecological Party of Uganda campaigns on 6 core principles;
1. Ecological wisdom: The EPU strives to protect plant and wildlife, and encourages citizens to learn to live with the ecological and resource limits of the planet.
2. Social Justice: In 2019, Uganda ranked 159 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index. The EPU aims to close the economic gap between rich and poor, and assist in eradicating poverty through market stability.
3. Participatory democracy: The EPU looks to empower Ugandans giving them access to all relevant information, and building institutions that enable decisions to be made directly at the appropriate level by those affected.
4. Non-violence: The EPU looks to “advocate for a national and global security system capable of the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts”, as well as “Removing the causes of war by understanding and respecting other cultures, eradicating racism, promoting freedom and democracy and ending poverty”.
5. Sustainability: The EPU website states that their goal of sustainability involves; “Redefining the concept of wealth, to focus on quality of life rather than capacity for over-consumption” as well as “Creating a national economy which aims to satisfy the needs of all, not the greed of a few; and enables those presently living to meet their own needs, without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet theirs”
6. Respect for Diversity: The EPU strives to achieve equality between men and women in all regards within Uganda, as well as to recognise and protect Uganda’s Indigenous peoples. The country has many ethnic Indigenous groups, none of which have been recognised officially as “Indigenous” by the Ugandan government in the past. The EPU states that they will recognise the “rights of indigenous peoples to the basic means of their survival, both economic and cultural, including rights to land and to self-determination; and acknowledgement of their contribution to the common heritage of national and global culture”.
The EPU’s push for greener politics in Uganda comes at a time of great concern for environmentalists, since plans have been put in place for the construction of a crude oil pipeline which will travel from the Ugandan-Congo border to the Port of Tanga in Tanzania, where it may be shipped across the Indian Ocean. The pipeline will be majority owned by French oil and gas company, Total SE, and by the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. At around 1,400 km, this would be the longest heated pipeline ever constructed.
The pipeline will run through several national forests and reserves, including the Taala Forest Reserve, the Bugoma Forest, and the Murchison Falls National Park, all located in Uganda.
American environmentalist and journalist for the New Yorker, Bill McKibben lists the species that will be potentially threatened by the pipeline, which include “chimpanzees . . . lions, buffalo, elands, lesser kudu, impalas, hippos, giraffes, zebras, roan antelopes, sitatungas, sables, aardvarks, and the red colobus monkey”.
This high risk to the integrity of the Ugandan ecosystem that comes with this pipeline may be much needed motivation for the EPU and Green supporters worldwide.
Global Green News will continue to monitor the progress made by the Ecological Party of Uganda as the election approaches.