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Uphill task for Okumu, Katuntu in 2011

By Vision Reporter

Added 30th January 2010 03:00 AM

KEY Forum For Democratic Change (FDC) legislators Reagan Okumu (Aswa), Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri) and Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo county) are going to face major hurdles in 2011’s elections.

KEY Forum For Democratic Change (FDC) legislators Reagan Okumu (Aswa), Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri) and Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo county) are going to face major hurdles in 2011’s elections.

By vision reporters

KEY Forum For Democratic Change (FDC) legislators Reagan Okumu (Aswa), Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri) and Geoffrey Ekanya (Tororo county) are going to face major hurdles in 2011’s elections.

The election year, 2011, is around the corner. Incumbents will struggle to retain their seats while many others will vie to replace them. The contests will cut across; from president, parliamentary constituencies to local government. As the temperatures begin to rise, Saturday Vision puts a barometer on the political climate; analysing the aspirants and the issues that are likely to influence voter choices


Bugweri county has had a history of bloody elections since 2006. The incumbent, is Abdu Katuntu of FDC. In 2006, Katuntu lost to Ali Kirunda Kivejinja (NRM), the Third Deputy Premier, after a controversial race that ended up in court. Katuntu was seeking redress citing electoral violence and rigging.

Kivejinja’s election was nullified, setting the stage for a tense by-election in which Katuntu triumphed. Hence as 2011 draws near, the question many voters are asking is whether the two political heavyweights will clash again.
The incumbent is certainly seeking a re-election if his regular constituency tours are anything to go by.

Katuntu presents himself as a down to earth man and it is not uncommon to see residents drive his vehicle in Bugweri as if it is a communal van. In Busoga, people glorify kindness and this gesture is enough to fetch reasonable votes even before the campaigns kick off.
With his eyes set on the 2011 ballot, Katuntu recently brought FDC party president Dr. Kiiza Besigye to Bugweri ‘to thank the people for having rejected the ruling party.’

It should be remembered that Katuntu initially won the Bugweri seat under the ‘all inclusive Movement system’, but later crossed to Reform Agenda that gave birth to FDC.

Kivejinja, who has another home in Kamuli is now a regular at communal activities including weddings, funerals and fundraisers. The constituents, however, doubt whether he will return to contest against Katuntu again, after the defeat in court and the by-election.

Kivejinja worked hard to uplift the farming standards in Bugweri especially through introduction of exotic mango and orange species now sold in Idudi trading centre along the Iganga – Bugiri highway.

However, some say Kivejinja might anoint eastern region youth MP Zaake Kibedi to on Katuntu on the NRM ticket. Kibedi was noticeably active in the by-election in which Katuntu won.

So, the 2011 parliamentary race in Bugweri will most likely have Katuntu against Kivejinja unless the NRM decides otherwise at primaries later this year.

Tororo county

The incumbent, FDC’s Geoffrey Ekanya, is being challenged by five people in his quest to retain the seat. A preliminary list of aspirants has four contenders from the NRM and one from UPC.

Those from NRM include Richard Ojore, a businessman dealing in clearing and forwarding of goods. His humility, selflessness and generous support for charity work has won him a large following at the grass-roots.

Chris Onguramo, the district chief finance officer, is also eying the seat under the NRM flag. He lost to Ekanya in 2006 despite being campaigned for by an NRM party giant, Salim Saleh.

James Okware, a librarian at Kyambogo University, is a seasoned politician, who only surfaces when elections are due. He is a good orator, but not so popular in the community.
Peter Omuse, a lecturer at the Uganda College of Commerce (UCC), Tororo and a district councillor is also eyeing the seat. He is known for his involvement in charity work and advocating social causes like the quest for a district status.

Michael Orach Osinde (UPC) is a human rights activist, who until last month was in the NRM but defected and committed his loyalty to the presidential candidature of UPC’s Olara Otunnu. He is a good public orator, but the community may consider him as an opportunist because of his sudden change from the NRM to UPC.

Geoffrey Ekanya is a talented public orator and still very popular. His firm stand on seeking district status for Tororo county is a strong factor that will determine whether or not he retains the seat. His landslide victory in 2006 was attributed to his being against the idea of granting the county a district status.


FOUR people have so far shown interest in running against the incumbent, Rebecca Nalwanga. They are NRM’s Proscovia Namansa, a teacher at Katikamu SDA, Aisha Kayaga, the district LC5 vice-chairperson, Victoria Mwaka the former MP and Nabatanzi Lugudde, a former presidential assistant.

Nalwanga stood as an Independent in 2006 and ousted Mwaka. Although Nalwanga has an edge over her rivals as the incumbent, she has fallen out with some of her former campaign managers, most of whom are residents of Katikamu North, her stronghold.

Nalwanga’s surprise victory over Mwaka in 2006, came as a result of a raging war of egos between former Luweero LC5 chairman, Abdul Nadduli and former Katikamu North MP, Maj. James Kinobe. Kinobe, who was defeated by Abraham Byandala, was posted to Kinshansa as Uganda’s Ambassador to the DR Congo.

After Kinobe was defeated in the NRM primaries by Byandaala, who was in Nadduli’s camp, Kinobe’s supporters in Katikamu North turned their anger on Mwaka. She was perceived to be a member of Nadduli’s camp, thus the constituents massively voted for Nalwanga. The hitherto little known Nalwanga, therefore, beat Mwaka hands down.

Nalwanga, who stood as an Independent in 2006, has since signed a memorandum of understanding with NRM party and mended fences with Nadduli, the influential NRM district boss.

During the controversial Land Bill debate in Parliament, Nalwanga voted against the new law. It will be a litmus test whether voters will reward her for being loyal to Buganda kingdom, which opposed the Bill, or punish her for opposing legislation expected to insulate residents from illegal evictions. Nalwanga has also joined Bamunanika county leaders, who are demanding for a district. And if the district is granted before 2011, she will stand as an MP there.

When contacted, Mwaka was non-committal on whether she would stand, saying party members would decide. This is an indication that she at least intends to stand for the primaries.

Meanwhile, the other candidates, Proscovia Namansa and Aisha Kayaga, are busy traversing the district in what they have termed as, ‘greeting the people’.


NRM’s Grace Tubwita, the incumbent will face off with Margaret Komuhangi, of the same party. Komuhangi, who lost by a slight margin in the 2006 primaries, says she wants to bring unity and development among the residents of Nakasongola. She says the incumbent, has done little to transform people’s lives during her tenure in Parliament.

Komuhangi, who was the first woman MP for Nakasongola in 2001, lost the seat after serving for three years, following a court petition by Tubwita over election malpractices. In the resultant by-election held in 2003, Tubwita won.

In Nakasongla, tribal sentiments usually determine the eventual winner. Tubwita, who is a member of the dominant Baruuli tribe, has an edge over her archrival who is looked at as a migrant. Tubwita also has the advantage of being the incumbent.

Tubwita’s undoing, however, is that some of her constituents consider her as not being sociable, a weakness that has always been exploited by her outgoing rival, Komuhangi. As a result, in the ensuing years, Komuhangi has won over hearts of many liberal Baruuli, especially those in Kakooge and Nabiwera sub-counties, and in the urban centres.
Tubwita’s efforts to endear herself to the youth, especially in Kakooge and Nabiwera led her into starting a football tournament. She also donated reflector jackets to boda boda cyclists.


WITH the prolonged LRA insurgency coming to an end, many say the opposition cannot discredit the NRM government. It is believed that the NRM might this time gain ground in the north that was previously an opposition stronghold.

In Aswa county, where Reagan Ronald Okumu (FDC) has been MP since 1996, a number of aspirants have come up to compete for the seat.

The people of Aswa applaud Okumu for his support in health, education, farming and sports. Sylvester Obol, a resident of Awach sub-county, said he initiated a health scheme for expectant mothers to deliver babies free of charge at St. Mary’s Hospital Lacor. Other projects initiated by the MP include university scholarships for students from poor families.

Under the Aswa recovery programme, the MP last year took 64 local farmers to model farms in western Uganda. Okumu also lobbied donors to fund education projects in Paicho sub-county. To help deal with the trauma of war in Aswa, the legislator distributes drums, musical instruments and uniforms to different cultural groups in the county.

The MP is, however, blamed for not accounting for the constituency development funds and the youth who did not benefit from the funds are unhappy.

Okumu will tussle it out with NRM’s Christopher Omara, Johnson Olwa and Christopher Kidega. Omara works as a land-mine risk educator with the Danish De-Mining Group in Gulu district. He is also the district youth chairman and former acting RDC of Pader.

Omara promises to re-organise the NRM in Gulu and to bring unity and respect to the party. To prepare the ground and sway voters to his side he has initiated income-generating activities like goat rearing and encouraged the youth to participate in peace-building activities.
He promised to establish a constituency development fund committee to monitor how funds are being utilised. “I will lobby for a war victims compensation bill to benefit all the people who lost their relatives and property during the war,” he says.

Olwa hopes he will be chosen as the NRM flag bearer during the primaries. Olwa, a businessman in Gulu town, is already mobilising the youth. He has organised football tournaments and donated various items, including money to women groups and the disabled in the hope of winning them over to his side.
He concedes that Okumu is a good legislator but faults him for not being pro-NRM. “The people should vote for NRM candidates so that Government programmes are properly implemented,” Olwa explained.

Kidega, a Kampala-based lawyer, also hopes to get NRM endorsement. He is holding a series of meetings at the grass roots purportedly to mobilise residents for the elections.
He appealed to the other NRM aspirants to step-down in his favour saying he was the only one who could defeat Okuku in 2011.

Compiled By Henry Mukasa, Moses Nampala, Chris Ocowun, George Bita and Frederick Kiwanuka

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Uphill task for Okumu, Katuntu in 2011

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