Uganda:Why NRM beat Opposition in new districts

Published by Daily Monitor
On 31 August 2016 saa 02:12
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NRM won all the LC5 and Woman MP slots except the Omoro LC5 seat won by a former NRM member.

Kampala. The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) won with a landslide in the new districts, lending credence to the long-held argument that new districts are created to further entrench the ruling party’s dominance.

NRM has more than 300 MPs and added four to these after winning all the Woman MP slots in the new districts.

In a March, 2015 letter to the Local Government minister, President Museveni argued for the creation of new districts as a way that would help to resolve complicated administration issues, separate various ethnic groups and address poor planning.

NRM takes all

NRM won all the LC5 and Woman MP slots except the Omoro LC5 seat won by a former NRM member. The race was not even close in the majority of the races with the leading NRM candidates sometimes garnering double or more the score of their closest challengers.

Opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidates mostly trailed in the third place, with NRM-leaning independent candidates coming second.

But what helped NRM, which has in the past not done well in bye-elections, to not only win but also for the Opposition to lose miserably?

“Our performance in past bye-elections has been harmed by internal rivalry. We would face a united front in the Opposition but also a fight within NRM. This time, we didn’t have any division in most of the constituencies,” Dr Tanga Odoi, the NRM electoral commission chairman, said.

Dr Tanga tagged the party’s success in the elections to “a well-packaged message, the realisation that people have achieved through NRM, a divided Opposition, people getting fed up with Opposition politics based on lies and violence.”

In an interview with Daily Monitor, FDC publicity secretary for Gulu and Omoro, Mr Wilson Oyat Chagga, said they are “dissatisfied” with the results, adding that they are yet to discuss with their candidates on the next course of action.

“I personally and FDC party are not satisfied with the polls because of the anomalies. Government vehicles have been used by NRM leaders to ferry people from the districts bordering Omoro to come and vote,” he said.

Mr Chagga also blamed their loss on FDC party members failing to provide block support to the chosen party flag bearers.

For example, FDC member and Gulu LC5 chairperson Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, openly backed Independent Peter Okello Okao, who eventually defeated FDC’s Simon Toolit Akecha by a margin of less than 100 votes.

Opposition disunited?

NRM publicity secretary for Gulu and Omoro Christopher Opiyo Ateker says their party capitalised on the disunity within the Opposition.

Mr Crispy Kaheru, the coordinator Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, which deployed observers to all the polling areas, called for the enforcement of the political parties code of conduct, as well as pass a water-tight legislation around campaign financing.

“We have generally seen a lot of voter bribery incidents and questionable assisted voting, especially in Rubanda. Voters too were being seen soliciting money from candidates’ agents, before they proceeded to their respective polling stations to vote,” he said.

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Ms Noeline Kisembo Basemera (NRM), Kibaale Woman MP and Ms Catherine Lamwaka (NRM), took the Omoro Woman MP seat