Entebbe. After a night of acrimony on Tuesday, the ruling NRM party parliamentary caucus yesterday regrouped and elected their flag bearers in the forthcoming elections for the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
By press time last evening (8:30pm), the NRM’s electoral commission chairman, Dr Tanga Odoi had not made the official announcement, but the Press Secretary to the President, Ms Lindah Nabusayi, in a tweet indicated that Mr Paul Musamali (167), former Bukedea Woman MP and former Internal Affairs minister, Ms Rose Akol (139), Mr George Odongo (119), Ms Mary Mugyenyi (115), former State minister for Agriculture, Mr Denis Namara (114) and Mathias Kasamba (119) had won the hotly contested race.
The NRM will send its six nominees to Uganda Parliament for proper election to EALA. The six candidates will be joined by candidates from other shades of opinion in Parliament including interest groups. Uganda, like any other EAC country has nine slots. However, on account of the majority in Parliament, NRM is expected to take the lions share.
Although on the first day, Ms Sarah Kagingo, one of the few youthful contenders had exhibited fortitude, after the party scrapped controversial regional format for the elections, apparently on the guidance of the party chairman, President Museveni, her support vanished. Others like the former Housing minister, Mr Francis Babu reportedly ‘left disappointed’ after smelling defeat.
Earlier, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief Whip, told Daily Monitor that normalcy was finally restored after the Tuesday night voting descended into war of words, and threats of fist fights. But Ms Nankabirwa said the tempers were calmed following a meeting of the party’s highest decision making organ, the Central Executive Committee, chaired by President Museveni.
“CEC sat at night after here (the chaos). The President was there and he is the one who chaired the meeting. CEC decided to give clarifications; that let us not confuse people with this issue of regions,” Ms Nankabirwa said.
The NRM top party organ also sought to reconcile Ms Kasule Lumimba, the Secretary General, and the party electoral commission boss Dr Tanga Odoi.
Nankabirwa said the party had resolved that all communications from CEC to the Caucus would be made by only the Secretary General.
She also ruled out any possibility of relieving either officials of their duty, saying they will have to sort out their disagreements amicably.
“When you are married, you will appreciate the need to tolerate one another,” Ms Nankabirwa said.
Meanwhile, former Minister Henry Banyenzaki pulled out of the race.
Mr Banyenzaki cited favouritism, unfairness and bribery in the election. He said his conscience would not permit him to associate with what he described as a sham election.
“Do you call this an election really? It isn’t. Money is changing hands within State House, which is the residence of the Fountain of Honour,” claimed Banyenzaki, adding: “I don’t want to go into details.”
His claims were backed by NRM party Deputy Secretary General Richard Todwong, who confirmed receiving reports of money being doled out but said he couldn’t prove the claims. “I am not aware. I am also hearing talk of money doing the rounds,” Mr Todwong said.
Speaking to Daily Monitor on condition that his identity would be concealed, an MP said those who are complaining of bribery are simply naive. “Anybody who expects money not to change hands, or is complaining about it are merely naïve. It could be because they didn’t have enough money to give out,” the MP said.
Other candidates who pulled out were Mr Christopher Werikhe, Mr William Kwemera, Mr Ronald Kif’omusana, Ms Sarah Lanyero, and Mr Denis Ssekabira.
On Tuesday, the caucus meeting that had been convened by President Museveni to choose the party flag bearers for EALA descended into chaos, forcing the election to be called off.
The heated exchange at the beginning of vote tallying pitted Dr Odoi, against the party MPs, with each camp accusing the other of messing up the vote by changing election guidelines mid-way the process.