How NRM dominated EALA elections as opposition loses more ground

It was a tense atmosphere around Parliament of Uganda as 28 Ugandans pitched their agenda using well packaged speeches.

Uganda’s legislators had a role to elect nine representatives to the regional assembly that sits at the East African Community headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

The usual practice has been that the EALA elections are conducted in a way that leaves a lion’s share to the ruling National Resistance Movement which sends six representatives while the opposition parties in Parliament and independents contribute two and one representative respectively.

Two of the current EALA representatives; Mukasa Mbidde and Chris Opoka come from the Democratic Party (DP) and Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) respectively. However, with Thursday’s elections results announced by Speaker Anita Among, the opposition parties lost one of their two known slots to Independent candidate, Jacqueline Amongin.

The procedure is that after all candidates have campaigned on the floor of Parliament, each MP proceeds to the voting booth and cast the ballot for nine favourite candidates. After the vote counting and tallying exercise, the first nine who have returned the highest number of votes are declared duly elected EALA representatives.

How did it go?
It was obvious the six candidates of the NRM who were passed unopposed in the Central Executive Committee (CEC) and Parliamentary Caucus so that they serve second term at Arusha would sail through in Parliament that is dominated by the ruling party.
At the declaration of results, Rose Akol garnered 422 votes followed by Denis Namara, 415, James Kakooza, 405, George Stephen Odongo, 403, Paul Musamali, 401, and Mary Mugyenyi, 367 votes.

In an election that was boycotted by leading opposition party the National Unity Platform (NUP) and the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) aspirant not showing up for nominations despite paying the none refundable Shs3m, the battle for the opposition slots pitted four parties against each other.

DP Secretary General, Gerald Siranda sailed through after receiving 233 votes and defeated Justice Forum (Jeema) candidate, Muhammad Katerega who polled 38 votes, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate, Harold Kaija with 99 votes and UPC candidate, Fred Ebil, 139 votes.

Owing to the procedure of taking the best nine, Ebil, the second best performing opposition candidate lost out to second independent candidate Amongin.

The former Ngora District woman MP was the eighth overall performer with 338 votes behind fellow independent Veronica Kadogo (former Buyende District Woman MP) who polled 383 votes.
DP’s Siranda who has been a frequent visitor to Parliament since the year started becomes the second beneficiary of the cooperation agreement signed two months ago between the oldest political party and the NRM. The cooperation agreement which Siranda referred to a couple of times as he campaigned on Thursday first bore fruits when DP President General joined Cabinet after President Yoweri Museveni appointed him Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister.

Siranda’s success crowns a big performance by the NRM because even the two independent victors- Amongin and Kadogo were in the 10th Parliament on the NRM ticket.

Shortly after declaring the results, Speaker Among asked the nine representatives to put party colours aside as they takeover office in Arusha come December.

“You are going to be representing Uganda but not political parties. In EALA, there are no shades of opinion and for you Uganda is first on the agenda” Among guided.

With each of the seven partner States expected to send nine representatives, the 5th EAC Assembly will have 63 members but without majority and minority wings as is the practice in national Parliaments across the world.

Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja attributed the performance of the NRM in the just concluded elections to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who she said was key in guiding the legislators on how to choose the nine representatives.

“Allow me to thank the members who have moved this journey. Some of our candidates started the day we were sworn in. I thank the President who has guided us and continuing to guide us” Nabbanja said.

The President after convincing the CEC not to subject the six incumbents to any primary elections despite there being over 100 party members expressing interest, two weeks ago met with the NRM caucus who agreed to his guidance.

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