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Big names fall in NRM, opposition

Jim Muhwezi

Last Thursday’s parliamentary election was high on surprises – it claimed many parliamentary scalps from both the ruling party and the opposition.  

The ruling National Resistance Movement (MRM) lost more than 18 ministers while the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) lost more than 12 MPs including Leader of Opposition in Parliament Wafula Oguttu and other senior party leaders.

The losing ministers include Attorney General Fred Ruhindi, Dr Crispus Kiyonga (Defense), Irene Muloni (Energy), Jessica Alupo (Education), Kahinda Otafiire (Justice and Constitutional Affairs), Rose Akol (Internal Affairs).

Others are Flavia Munaaba (State for Environment), Jim Muhwezi (Information), Vincent Nyanzi (State in VP’s office), Michael Werikhe (Trade), Asuman Kiyingi (State for works), Fred Omachi (Finance), Rebecca Atengo (Northern Uganda), Rukia Nakadama (State for Gender), Alex Onzima (State for Local Government), Nekesa Barbara Oundo (State for Karamoja Affairs) and Henry Banyenzaki (State for Economic Monitoring).

The party also lost many legislators. In Mayuge, Rukia Nakadama lost to Juliet Mukoda, an NRM-leaning independent. Rebecca Otengo’s fate was sealed by her decision to relocate from Alebtong Woman seat to Moroto county to unseat UPC’s Obua Ogwal (Moroto). 

Both Ogwal and Otengo lost the seat to Samuel Okwir, an independent, whom Otengo defeated in the primaries.

However, FDC also lost many of its top party leaders who include Leader of Opposition in Parliament Phillip Wafula Oguttu, Alice Alaso (Serere Women), Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo Municipality), Amuriat Oboi (Kumi county), Kevin Taaka (Busia municipality), Florence Ibi Ekwau (Kaberamaido), Kasiano Wadri (Terego), Jack Sabiti (Rukiga), Odo Tayebwa (Ishaka-Bushenyi municipality) and Stephen Ochola (Serere), Paul Mwiru (Jinja Municipality East) and Christine Abia (Arua Woman), among others.

Wafula Oguttu attributed his defeat to vote rigging. He said the results on the declaration forms were different from those announced by the Electoral Commission. 

However, FDC made some gains in Rukungiri, Kasese and Acholi, among other areas. For instance, Francis Mwijukye, a former aide to Besigye, won Buhweju constituency in Ankole. 

In Rukungiri, Besigye’s home district, the party retained the municipality seat and also won in Rujumbura constituency, where FDC’s Fred Turyamuweza trounced Information and National Guidance Minister Jim Muhwezi while Betty Muzanira  won the Rukungiri Woman MP seat, beating Minister Ssezi Mbaguta. 

In Kampala, FDC’s Michael Kabaziguruka beat Attorney General Fred Ruhindi in Nakawa, Ibrahim Kasozi (FDC) won Makindye East, Mubarak Munyagwa (FDC) won Kawempe South while Nabillah Naggayi retained her seat (Kampala Woman MP).

In Acholi, FDC made some inroads. Former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Ogenga Latigo bounced back as MP for Agago North, a new constituency carved from Agago, which he represented in the eighth parliament.

Lucy Akello (FDC) won the Amuru Woman seat, Simon Oyet (FDC) won Nwoya, Gilbert Olanya won Kilak South and the party also won Kilak North. Reagan Okumu retained his Aswa county seat. Opposition-leaning independent Beatrice Anywar won Kitgum municipality.

In Rwenzori, FDC candidates William Nzoghu retained Busongora North, Godfrey Katusabe won Bukonzo West, trouncing NRM long-serving Minister Kiyonga, Winnie Kiiza won the Kasese Woman seat while Tony Harold won Bukonzo East.

In Teso, the party suffered several causalities and got little gains. Edmund Herbert Ariko won the Soroti municipality seat; Anita Amongi (FDC) trounced Minister Rose Akol to become Bukedea Woman MP. In West Nile, the party swept Maracha and also won the Jonan constituency (Emmanuel Ongiertho), defeating the minister of state for Finance Fred Omach.

Though the party won more than 15 seats, it lost 12 seats. Observers attribute Oboi’s loss to a political miscalculation. He left his Kumi County seat to a minnow Sam Emorut (FDC) to contest in Kanyum county, a new constituency, where he was trounced by NRM’s Ismael Orot.  

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, lost Dr Lulume Bayigga (Buikwe),  Joseph Balikudembe (Busiro South), Richard Ssebuliba Mutumba (Kawempe South) and Mathias Nsubuga (Bukoto South), among others.

However, the party won some seats. For instance, a DP candidate won Gulu municipality, Allan Ssewanyana won Makindye West, Peter Okot (DP) won Toki county, a new constituency in Gulu district, Mary Babirye Kabanda won the Masaka Woman MP seat and Luttamaguzi Ssemakula took Nakaseke South.

There were six parties represented in the 9th parliament: NRM, FDC, Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), DP, Conservative Party (CP) and Justice Forum (Jeema). Jeema and CP had one MP each, and John Ken Lukyamuzi, the CP president general and the only party MP, was trounced by comedian Kato Lubwama, a DP-learning independent while Hussein Kyanjo of Jeema didn’t contest.

NRM RESPONDS

Government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the defeat of ministers is a clear indication of a growing democracy.  

“It is okay for these political failures because, it is normal and it shows the democracy we have in Uganda; this will not stop the NRM government from serving the people of Uganda,” Opondo said.

“Even in the opposition, over 14 MPs have been defeated; so, it is on both sides and it is a good lesson for all of us.” Mike Sebalu, the spokesperson for the NRM election task force, said the parliamentary election results were a confirmation of the NRM primary election results. 

“It was a reflection of what came out of the primaries, most of those ministers failed in the primaries but they insisted on going independent, now this was confirming the primary results,” Sebalu said. 

He said the new faces will be able to replace those powerful losing ministers and will even perform better.  

“Even the current government was largely formed by new faces but they have performed better.”

ssekika@observer.ug

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