5 June 2012

East Africa: Two Local Women Neck-to-Neck for Eala Speaker

Photo: New Vision
Margaret Zziwa: As Speaker she will be a key player in the region and one of the region's top political figures.

Two Ugandans Dora Byamukama and Margaret Zziwa will today tussle it out in the elections for the post of speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly.

"There are two candidates for Uganda. It will be a Ugandan affair," Bobi Odiko, public relations for the East African Legislative Assembly said Monday.

Byamukama and Zziwa are both NRM party members and had returned nomination forms for the post to the clerk of EALA by the deadline of Monday.

Odiko said the elections would take place this afternoon. He said a Burundi candidate Hafsa Mossi withdrew from the contest as she gave way for Uganda to take its turn for the position.

Byamukama is the official candidate for Uganda.

Daniel Kidega, one of Uganda's elected members to EALA said following the principle of rotation followed in EAC, it was Uganda's turn to have a speaker for EALA.

"Some people were not sure that it was Uganda's turn but it is Uganda's turn," Kidega said. He said Burundi's turn comes after Rwanda who will take over from Uganda after this five year turn.

Kidega said Burundi withdrew its candidature after high profile delegations met the Burundi chapter for EALA.

Kidega said by last evening both Byamukama and Zziwa were canvassing for votes in 'door to door' campaigns and 'hotel to hotel' from the various EALA members from the five countries.

Kidega said a team of 20 Ugandan MPs including party whips from DP, UPC and parliamentary commissioners were also in Arusha and had tried to convince Zziwa to stand down in favour of Byamukama but she was reluctant to step down.

He said the nine EALA members from Uganda also voted to select one of the two candidates, with Byamukama getting seven votes, Zziwa one vote and one member was absent during the vote.

Kidega said that during a luncheon hosted on Friday by Rebecca Kadaga, speaker of Parliament to congratulate the nine elected EALA representatives and had a simple discussion.

"We agreed during the luncheon to support Dora Byamukama to become the speaker for EALA," Kidega said.

He explained that Uganda did not want to send any other names for a speaker to prevent creating an image that the Uganda team was fighting each other. "We don't want to look shabby. The aspiring speaker will go through the normal channels of nomination. She will pick nomination papers and return them," he said.

Kidega said the nine members from Uganda had traveled to Arusha on Saturday and on Sunday Byamukama and Zziwa picked nomination papers and returned Monday.

Elections for the speaker will take place on Tuesday followed by swearing in. All EALA MPs from the region will also be sworn on the same day.

Abdirahin H. Abdi the outgoing speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, recently told New Vision online it was Uganda' turn to elect a speaker unless other agreements come up or the other partner states decided to field in candidates.

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