Thursday, 13 January 2011 11:50
As President Yoweri Museveni completes his campaign in Kigezi and Ankole sub-regions, the main issue that stands out in his tour of the area is the power struggles between NRM flag bearers and the defeated NRM candidates standing as independents.
Museveni has spent the better part of his time meeting with independent candidates and asking them to step down for flag bearers. During campaigns in Kabale where most of the constituencies have an NRM leaning independent candidate running against an NRM flag bearer, Museveni expressed concern that the infighting might hand the opposition victory.
“In NRM, we have those who are contesting as independents. I will sit with them because they are all mine and they will tell me how we shall ensure that our votes are not split. We should be careful so that our votes are not split and we get leaders from other political parties who are not beneficial,” Museveni told supporters.
Many have, however, refused to listen to his advice.
While campaigning in Ruhinda constituency in Mitooma district, the President was met by a scuffle between incumbent Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire and independent candidate Gilbert Mauna Njeneki. Njeneki says that Otafiire cheated him of victory in the NRM primaries.
“I am not here to divide the party, rather I am showing that our party is democratic and has people who can develop the nation. Otafiire has not done anything for Bushenyi when it was still one for all the years he has been in power,” Njeneki said.
During the well attended rally in Mitooma, Otafiire sat on top of the pickup truck near the microphone from beginning to end. He, however, surprised everyone when he invited Njeneki to address the crowd.
When Njeneki got the microphone, he immediately started bashing Otafiire who was standing next to him.
“He does not scare me at all because when I called the fellow to explain what he can give the people, he failed. He is just attacking me, which shows that he is weak,” Otafiire retorted.
While campaigning in Sheema district, the President called out the two Woman MP candidates, Rosemary Nyakikongoro and Naome Kibaaju. They are fighting to represent NRM in the coming elections. Matters have been referred to court which resolved that both stand for the Woman MP seat for Sheema district as independents. Nyakikongoro was the flag bearer until court cancelled her election, but nominations had already taken place.
When the President called forward the official party flag bearer, both women sprang to their feet and ran towards him, fighting for the microphone.
“Now these two sisters, they went to court which allowed them to stand. I talked to them but they have refused,” Museveni told a rally in Kabwohe.
While campaigning in Mbarara municipality, Museveni failed to convince the crowd to support the NRM flag bearer, Dr Medard Bitekyerezo. They said he cheated the independent, Michael Tusiime.
Having failed to resolve the political feud between the two, the President has left it to the voters to decide, but not before promising one last attempt.
Museveni tried to reconcile independent candidates with NRM flag bearers in Kisoro district but failed. The independents in the race include incumbent Bufumbira East MP and Ethics minister, James Nsaba Buturo, who is facing the flag bearer, Eddie Kwizera Wagahungu.
The President met the two at the State Lodge in Kisoro town while campaigning in the mountainous district that neighbours Rwanda.
He called both candidates to address the people during his rallies in Busanza sub-county. Here, Museveni again admitted that some of the independents had genuine complaints since their grievances had not been addressed by the NRM electoral commission on time.
In Kabale district, a number of NRM party flag bearers are facing NRM-leaning independents. The incumbent Woman MP, Hope Mwesigye, faces Ronah Ninsiima, for the Woman MP seat. In Rubanda county, Henry Banyenzaki is facing NRM-leaning independent, Nelson Habasa. In Rukiga county, MP Adison Kakuru is up against independent Medard Gumisiriza, while in Kabale municipality, MP Serapio Rukundo is facing independent Andrew Baryayanga. Many of these independents conduct their campaigns as though they were the official NRM candidates, wearing NRM T-shirts and other paraphernalia and declaring everlasting support for the party’s presidential candidate, Yoweri Museveni.
The President registered some success in Bushenyi where in the Woman MP race, NRM leaning independent Elizabeth Nsimadara who has been giving Mary Karooro Okurut a headache finally agreed to stand down. This was during a rally at Kizinda playground in Bushenyi district.
“Because of the good things that the Movement has done, I have been compelled to return to it instead of opposing it as an independent,” Nsimadara told the President.
In Igara East, Yiyard Rushatuka Munanura announced his withdrawal before the NRM party leader, as well as flag bearer, Michael Mawanda.
“I withdrew from the race for the sake of the Movement party,” Rushatuka said.
Where NRM has failed to convince its stubborn members to stand down, it has succeeded at convincing a lot of opposition candidates to stand down in favour of NRM candidates. FDC’s Vereriano Tukahebwa of the new Katerera constituency in Rubirizi district was received by the President during a rally in Katerera. Tukahebwa stood down for NRM’s Atuhaire Katooto and also crossed to NRM.
While campaigning in Rushere, Nyabushozi county in Kirihura district, FDC’s Docus Mpinda told the President that she now belongs to NRM. She also announced her decision to stand down in favour of NRM flag-bearer, Beatrice Oyontsyaboona Rusaniya. The President welcomed her and decorated her with NRM symbols, a yellow NRM T-shirt and cap.