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Replacing Abiriga: All eyes on Arua Municipality

By Joseph Kizza

Added 13th August 2018 10:39 AM

The crowded race has as many as 12 candidates vying for a seat left vacant after the murder of MP Ibrahim Abiriga in early June.

Replacing Abiriga: All eyes on Arua Municipality

The crowded race has as many as 12 candidates vying for a seat left vacant after the murder of MP Ibrahim Abiriga in early June.

PIC: NRM's flagbearer Nusura Tiperu hot on the campaign trail in Arua. (Credit: Bosco King)

ARUA MUNICIPALITY BY-ELECTION


All eyes are on Arua Municipality in northern Uganda, where a key by-election is only hours away. As many as 12 contestants are hoping to replace Ibrahim Abiriga - who was murdered two months ago - as the area MP.

Voters will go to the polls this Wednesday to elect their new representative in Parliament.

President Yoweri Museveni travelled to the area on Monday to drum up support for Nusura Tiperu, as the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party seeks to retain the seat.

President Yoweri Museveni campaigns for NRM's Tiperu on Monday


Abiriga was a popular political figure in the area, and the fact that Tiperu is tussling it out with 11 other hopefuls clearly shows the degree of significance Arua Municipality harbours.

It will be a case of who threads the needle first.

At the heart of the by-election battle is also Bruce Musema of the Forum for Demoratic Change (FDC), Democratic Party's Kennedy Madira and Jaffar Alekua of Justice Forum (JEEMA).

While Kassiano Wadri is the clear best of the rest (independent candidates), the former Terego County MP is seen as one of the favourites to take the seat.

The other independents are Jackson Atima, Robert Ejiku, Francis Nyero, Sunday Anguandia, Alfred Nyakuni, Simon Avutia and Safi Bavuga.

From left, independents Ejiku and Wadri and FDC's Musema


It is a crowded cast for a single by-election, but it provides the sort of atmosphere that inevitably gets politcal enthusiasts rubbing their hands in anticipation, with a grin impressed on their faces.

Whereas the candidates did their respective rallying in all corners of Arua, they had to be brought together on the same stage to face off in a debate, which, interestingly, had a conspicuous absentee: Tiperu.

It emerged that the NRM front-runner had travelled to Rhino Camp to attend the last Duwa prayers for the slain legislator she hopes to replace in Parliament.

Monday's New Vision paper reported that Wadri was dominant in the 11-strong debate.

"I have stayed out of Parliament for the last two-and-a-half years, but the roads in Terego have not been tarmacked even with an NRM MP representing Terego West," said the former parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) chairperson during the lively faceoff.

With 15 years of Parliament experience under his belt, Wadri is a sure force to reckon with.

But his fellow independent rival, Musema, said what Arua Municipality, which has 50 cells and 65 polling stations, needs are young leaders full of sprite and energy, as opposed to recycling leaders.

The battle lines are drawn. Who will take the day?

 

 

ANALYSIS
(Extracted from Sunday Vision of August 12, 2018)

 

The crowded race has made it a stiff battle for the 12 contenders, but observers say while most of them lack a credible path to victory, nearly all could play a spoiler role. They say, though, the show is likely to be between NRM, FDC and its faction, led by former party president Maj. Gen. (rtd) Mugisha Muntu.

Divisions in FDC were laid bare recently after Muntu openly campaigned against the official party flag-bearer, Musema. He asked people to vote the former Terego County MP, Kassiano Wadri, who defied the party to run as an independent candidate.

Wadri, who is one of the founders of FDC, protested the move by the party to nominate Musema without holding primaries. He said he was also contesting because of the infighting in FDC and the party's rigidity.

However, FDC spokesperson and Opposition chief whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda said they backed Musema because the principle of their party is that the person who campaigned in the general election will be the party candidate for the next five years.

Abiriga defeated Musema in the 2016 elections after garnering 8,473 votes against the latter's 7,227.

Observers say Wadri, who is known for his tough stance in fighting corruption in the Ninth Parliament as chairperson of public accounts committee, could split the FDC vote and prevent Musema from emerging winner.

He is said to have the backing of Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine) whose ‘red wave' recently carried JEEMA president Asuman Basalirwa past the finishing line first in Bugiri Municipality. Bobi Wine, who is expected to arrive in the constituency this week, ensured in Bugiri that Basalirwa's campaign was married with both the politics of the day and entertainment.

He hopes to do the same for Wadri, who also has the pro-Muntu MPs such as Jinja Municipality East MP Paul Mwiru and former legislators such as former Serere Woman MP Alice Alaso and former Arua Woman MP Christine Abia.

 



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