The Observer (Kampala)

4 January 2013

Uganda: Butaleja Poll - Who Will Replace Nebanda?

The police have vowed to crush any act of lawlessness in the by-election to replace the fallen Butaleja Woman Member of Parliament, Cerinah Nebanda, next month.

The Electoral Commission has set February 11, 2013 as the date for the election.

Eng Badru Kiggundu, the Electoral Commission chairperson, told journalists at the Commission offices yesterday that the commission has also set January 21-22 as nomination dates.

"During the by-election programme, no fundraising activities shall be allowed in Butaleja. This is to allow a level-ground for all the candidates and all those found contravening the law shall be dealt with accordingly," Kiggundu warned.

After nomination, candidates will be allowed to campaign for 18 days between January 24 and February 9. Kiggundu also warned candidates against using hateful language that he said could plunge the by-election into chaos. Butaleja district, according to the EC has 87,641 registered voters and 151 polling stations. An update of the voters' register, will be conducted from January 5 - 9 to enable Ugandans of 18 years and above to register or transfer to new polling stations.

Battleground

The EC's press briefing was unusually attended by the deputy Inspector General of Police (IGP), Okoth Ochola and the director of operations Uganda police, Grace Turyagumanawe. On their part, police sent a stern warning against those planning chaos in the by-election. Ochola said there would be 'abnormal deployment' in the district during the by-election period.

"We can't accept anarchy in Butaleja. In addition to normal deployment, we are going to beef up security. We shall have both overt and covert deployments," Ochola stressed.

In addition to deployments, Ochola said the police would conduct community policing to avert lawlessness in the by-election. Grace Turyagumanawe, also weighed in, explaining that police has information indicating that there is a group planning to ferry people from other districts to cause mayhem in Butaleja during the by-election.

"Our deployment is intelligence-led; so, we can't take chances. We know when, where and how to deploy, that is our mandate," he said, although he could not specify which people are planning to ferry goons to Butaleja to cause mayhem.

Party primaries

Meanwhile, the NRM party has announced that it will soon conduct internal primary elections to select a candidate, to run in the by-election.

"We are still drawing up the programme. But we shall definitely conduct our primaries before January 20," Prof Elijah Mushemeza, the party's electoral commission deputy chairperson, said yesterday.

Dorothy Hyuha, NRM deputy secretary general, who was once Butaleja Woman MP, has not indicated whether she will contest for the seat again. Hyuha lost to Nebanda in the 2010 party primaries. Florence Andiru, Nebanda's elder sister, has already indicated she will participate in the polls.

The UPC and Uganda Federal Alliance have already indicated that they will not present a candidate to challenge Andiru. It is still unclear if FDC will also back her or select another candidate.

"FDC had a candidate in the previous election [Suzan Baluka], but I'm not sure whether she will participate in the by-election. Definitely we shall participate, if we don't field a candidate, as a party we shall back one of the candidates" party, spokesman Wafula Oguttu said.

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