Deputy Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga was last evening chosen by the NRM as its flag bearer for the Speaker job after incumbent Edward Ssekandi pulled out of the race.
Ms Kadaga, who was chosen by the National Resistance Movement parliamentary party caucus meeting at State House, Entebbe, will now face off with opposition politician Nathan Nandala Mafabi on Thursday when the entire House votes.
Mr Mafabi, the Budadiri West MP, yesterday evening laughed off the NRM choice, saying it was preserving the "status quo" and swore to take the final vote.
He said there is no difference between Ms Kadaga and Mr Ssekandi because the duo had failed in areas of transparency, integrity and accountability in the last 15 years.
"There is no single day when Kadaga came out to say Ssekandi is wrong. They are all the same because there is no difference between a deputy and a speaker, I want to be different," Mr Mafabi said.
"I don't care if the party has chosen one person because the race will be determined by the whole House and I will go up to the end." MPs who attended the closed caucus meeting told Daily Monitor that Mr Ssekandi said he was tired and found it desirable to leave the job after serving for a long time.
Mr Ssekandi has been Speaker for the past decade and before that had served as Deputy Speaker for five years. Others said he could have feared humiliation at the ballot since Ms Kadaga seemed to have mobilised massively, while other speculated that Mr Museveni had offered him a post in the soon-to-be-named Cabinet.
"He realised it would be hot for him and withdrew saying he had served for 15 years and wants to give others a chance," said an MP on condition of anonymity since details of the meeting were still private.
There has been speculation that Mr Ssekandi could be lined up for the vice presidency or a justice ministry portfolio.
Many of Ms Kadaga's supporters met yesterday morning at Bauman House to strategise, considering that Mr Ssekandi has largely been quiet on whether he was going to run.
And like it is the norm with many elections, talk of money doing the rounds was also rife, although Daily Monitor could not confirm the claims.
With the Ssekandi-Kadaga face-off being a no-show, focus turned to the battle for Deputy Speaker with three contenders: Peter Nyombi (Nakasongola), Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Jacob Oulanyah (Omoro), tussling it out.
By 8:30pm, reports indicated that Mr Oulanyah was in a comfortable lead followed by Mr Nyombi and Mr Niwagaba trailing.
Nathan Nandala Mafabi
Born in 1966 in Sironko District, the Budadiri West MP is known for his crusade against corruption while chairing the Public Accounts Committee. Mafabi heads the Bugisu Cooperative Union and is married with five children. He studied Bachelors of Law and has a Master of Arts in Economic Policy and Planning. He has won the integrity award, who is who in the world award, and the ACCA award for best performance. Nandala could fail to get the Speaker's seat because the NRM enjoys majority seats in Parliament. When elected Speaker, Nandala wants to push for a constitution amendments to ensure the Speaker doesn't remain an elected MP.
Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga
Born in Kamulu District, Kadaga has been deputy speaker of Parliament since 1996. She has earned herself the liking of many in both the ruling NRM party and in the opposition for being open-minded. The deputy NRM chairperson for eastern region has led many parliamentary delegations to several destinations across the world, making her knowledgeable on how other parliaments work. She holds a Bachelor Degree and post-graduate diploma in Women Law from the University of Zimbabwe. In 1996, she was appointed Minister of State for Regional Cooperation in charge of Africa and the Middle East. In 1998, she was appointed minister of state for communication in charge of aviation and communication.
Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi
His term as Speaker of Parliament ends on Wednesday. The Bukoto Central MP was the first Speaker of a multi- party Parliament in Uganda. He has served as Speaker for 15 years since 2001 and has been the most criticized Speaker Uganda has had because he has been seen as partial and allowing the executive to manipulate the House, meant to be independent. With 37 years experience in law, Ssekandi was among the legal brains behind the 1995 Constitution. He has 37 years experience in law and also worked as a lecturer at the LDC. Mr Ssekandi stepped down from seeking another term yesterday during the NRM Caucus meeting at State House Entebbe.
Race for deputy speaker
Born April 1964, the Nakasongola County MP was among the 77 lawmakers of the 8th Parliament who were ejected by the constitutional court ruling over changing party allegiances. He worked as legal counsel in the prime minister's office in 1986 and in the IGG's office from 1996 to 2001. He worked as State Attorney and Principal State Attorney. He served as Chairman Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. His undoing could be due to his failure to release a committee report on police brutality which many call a failure.
Jacob Okori Oulanyah
He is the MP-elect for Omoro County in Gulu district on the NRM ticket. He represented the same constituency on UPC ticket from 2001 to 2006 but lost his bid for the 8th Parliament after crossing to the NRM. A lawyer by profession, Oulanyah was part of the peace talks team between government and the LRA rebels. Being a new entrant in the NRM, MPs think he has been pushed by the party top executive to contest for the job because while campaigning in Gulu, President Museveni referred to him as ministerial material.
Born on July 1971 in Kabale, Niwagaba is the MP for Ndorwa East in Kabale District on the NRM ticket. A seasoned lawyer, Niwagaba is an associate professional advisor to the Law Development Centre where he did his post-graduate diploma in legal practice. He was a lecturer in the Department of Marketing, National College of Business Studies and Nakawa until 1997. He has been member of the Uganda Law Society and a member of the East African Law society. He has been labelled a 'rebel' within the NRM because of failing to agree with the party.