New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: New District Chairpersons Voted In

Kampala — The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party has won most of the district chairperson positions in the new districts.

It snatched 15 out of the 23 new districts, which voted yesterday. UPC and FDC took two districts each, the DP took one, while two independents won one each.

One of the independents was a woman, Catherine Tibulya Matovu, who took Bukomansimbi. Overall, three women were elected: Florence Kintu (NRM) took Kalungu, while Betty Akoli Nam (UPC) is to head Kole district.

Although the Electoral Commission deputy chairperson, Joseph Biribionwa, said Akoli Nam was elected on a UPC ticket, NRM supporters were celebrating her victory, saying she had defected to the ruling party recently.

The elections, however, could not be held in Ntoroko because "the gazetted returning officer was sick," Biribonwa said. The elections will now take place on July 13.

Overall, Biribonwa said the elections were peaceful. "We have not received any complaints," he noted.

Lack of quorum, however, failed Bulambuli district. "Only eight out of 13 councillors turned up, leaving us with a deficit of one person," Christine Kunihira, the Bulambuli returning officer, said.

Luuka district suffered a stalemate after both candidates, Samuel Kakyada and Dan Kibira, tied at five votes each.

"They may have to get another session within which to choose their leader, most probably tomorrow," Biribonwa said.

In some places, such as Kole, voting had to be repeated after two councillors got the same number of votes.

"In the second round, Betty Akoli got five out of the eight votes," revealed Benjamin Ewal, the Kole returning officer.

The guidelines stipulate that two-thirds of the councillors be present for voting to take place.

Elected unopposed were David Kisembo (Rubirizi), Bernard Eumu (Ngora), Leopold Kinene Damulira (Kyankwanzi), Moses Mwanga Chekwengu (Kween), Muhammed Nakeba (Kibuku), Florence Kintu (Kalungu), Godfrey Bazekuno Mafumu (Butambala), Joseph Lomonyang (Napak); and Alex Mabirizi (Buvuma).

The interim chairpersons will serve until substantive ones are chosen through adult suffrage next year.

Nwoya chairperson Patrick Okello Oryema (DP) recently declared defected to FDC. But the commission said he was elected on a DP ticket.

Oryema was elected after the LC5 councillor for Koch-Goma sub-county, Justin Oloya Lungajul, also a member of FDC, stepped down for him.

Meanwhile, local government minister Adolf Mwesige has issued guidelines to kick-start the newly-created districts.

In a letter to chief administrative officers, Mwesige said the interim councils will not have a speaker or a deputy speaker. Instead, the district chairperson will preside over council sessions. However, the executive should include an interim vice-chairperson and secretaries, not exceeding three.

The minister said the council will not have powers to appoint district statutory bodies, such as the district service commission.

Mwesige warned the interim councils against altering or creating new administrative units without his approval.

"The headquarters of the district shall automatically become a town council. This is consistent with the Local Governments Act," he said.

Mwesige also pointed out that no interim standing committees will be formed in case the number of councillors is less than 15. Instead, the entire council will perform the functions of such committees.

Additional reporting by Patrick Opio, Ali Mambule, George Bita, Chris Ocuwun, Moses Bikala, and Olandason Wanyama

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