In 2009, upon the invitation of Uganda?s parliamentary political parties, NIMD began facilitating an inclusive and permanent interparty dialogue process aimed at strengthening and consolidating the country?s fledgling multiparty democracy.
Setting up an interparty dialogue platform
As setting up an interparty dialogue platform is not an easy process, an exchange visit to Ghana was organised in October 2009 in order to expose the Ugandan political parties to Ghana’s experiences with interparty dialogue.
The exchange visit provided an opportunity to facilitate information sharing and consultation between the Ugandan and Ghanaian political parties; to lay the foundation for an inclusive interparty dialogue forum for the Ugandan political parties; and to reach an agreement on the rules of engagement for the Uganda interparty dialogue process.
The exchange was notable for the fact that it brought together, for the first time, the secretaries general and senior NEC members of the six Ugandan political parties with representation in parliament.
Learning from Ghanaian political parties
The main component of the exchange visit was a workshop on inclusive interparty dialogue in Ghana. Members from the Ghanaian forum for political parties (GPPP) shared some valuable lessons with the Ugandan political parties in order to help the Ugandans fashion their own process.
The political parties in Ghana demonstrated how, by meeting each other regularly, they were able to create a conducive environment for political discussion, whereby problems that came up could be discussed amicably, often resulting in a commonly agreed upon solution. In fact, in Ghana the interparty dialogue platform has successfully helped establish free and fair elections, a peaceful change of power and democratic reforms.
The workshop, which was facilitated by former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, formed an important basis for appreciating the need for a structured way of interaction among political parties in Uganda.
"Never before had six political parties from Uganda sat round one table: one leader and five opposition parties. Augustine Ruzindana, head of the main opposition party, said: “We are talking to each other for the first time.” … The parties have officially agreed to meet each other on a regular basis … sensitive issues can be left to settle, politicians can ask each other about specific interests that motivate their various points of view, so that compromises can come within reach”. A British diplomat, present at the ceremonial signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on 5 February  in Kampala, described it as “a breakthrough”.
Peaceful co-existence and dialogue
Participants agreed that an interparty dialogue process would be very beneficial in the Ugandan context. The political parties therefore agreed to move towards a more formal set-up for peaceful co-existence and dialogue in Uganda.
During the exchange visit a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was drafted, confirming the commitment of Uganda’s political parties to the fundamental principles of democracy, good governance and peaceful dialogue.
In order to inform a wider cross-section of the executive in each party about the contents of the MoU and the benefits of entering into a dialogue process, the secretaries general of two Ghanaian parties travelled to Uganda in November 2009. This ensured a buy-in into the dialogue process from a wider cross-section of the parties.
In February 2010, during a special signing ceremony in the Ugandan capital Kampala, the Inter Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) was officially launched.