"Our candidates didn't have money to carry out campaigns and pay their agents."
KAMPALA - The Uganda People's Congress (UPC) faction led by Lira municipality MP Jimmy Akena has blamed its embattled party leader Dr. Olara Otunnu for the party's dismal performance in the February parliamentary elections.
UPC currently has six MPs in the 10th parliament, down from 10 in the last House.
On the opposition side, Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has the highest number of MPs at 36, followed by Democratic Party (DP) with 14.
With as many as 294 legislators, ruling party National Resistance Movement (NRM) has the majority in Parliament.
"Our candidates didn't have money to carry out campaigns and pay their agents. All the money was given to rival candidates by Olara Otunnu," said UPC secretary general, Edward Ssegane.
Addressing a press conference at the UPC headquarters in Kampala on Wednesday, the Akena faction also accused embattled party vice president Joseph Bbosa for writing to the Electoral Commission requesting the commission to cancel the candidature for most of its parliamentary candidates that had stood on the UPC ticket.
UPC spokesperson Michael Osinde Orach also spoke during the media conference. (Credit: Shamim Saad)
Ssegane noted that the Otunnu faction leadership, whose term they say expired last year, frustrated UPC candidates in the 2016 general elections by withholding campaign funds.
"How can you go to the Electoral Commission and ask them to cancel candidature for the few candidates we had? This is a shame and we can never forgive you as UPC,” he said.
The number would have been even lower hadn’t Jimmy Akena campaigned for the MPs in Lango region in the north, added Ssegane.
UPC said that besides the six MPs, they had 500 elected representatives at all levels including mayors, and LC5 chairpersons.
Michael Osinde, the party spokesperson, said: "After having made strenuous efforts to stop members standing on the party ticket from being allowed to stand, they also went as far as putting up candidates to contest against UPC flagbearers during the elections."
Olara Otunnu last week announced that he will resign from his position as "party president". (Credit: Mary Kansiime)
When contacted on Tuesday, Otunnu's deputy Joseph Bbosa admitted writing to the Electoral Commission in a bid to stop the candidates from being nominated, but denied having any name of the candidates cancelled.
He attributed the reduced number of UPC MPs in parliament to party wrangles and confusion, which he said made some party members to stand as independents.
"I never listed any names for cancellation and the Electoral Commission never cancelled anyone's candidature. Many of our members lost just because they stood as independents," said Bbosa.
Relatedly, the Akena faction also lashed out at Otunnu for reportedly posturing himself as the legitimate party president.
Members of UPC stand before the Ugandan, East African and the party flags to mark the first year of Jimmy Akena’s election as UPC president and the acknowledgement of the party’s contribution to Uganda’s Independence and the formation of East African Community. (Credit: Ronnie Kijjambu)
Otunnu, who claims to be the legitimate UPC president, last week announced that on July 1, he will be resigning from his position, relinquishing power to his deputy Bbosa.
"We are aware that Otunnu is on a mission to derail the party by misleading members that he is the president but we shall not allow him because our leadership was elected through the due process," Lawrence Engirot, the national chairman in Akena's camp, told a news conference on Monday.
According to the UPC, Akena got nominated to qualify for the national delegate's conference with 61 of the required 28 minimum district delegates, with his closest competitor David Pulkol trailing with 12 while Bossa managed 11.
Akena called for a delegate's conference in July that hurriedly declared him substantive president and swore him in.