9 June 2017

Uganda: Who Will Take Kyadondo East MP Seat?

Photo: BobiWineLive/Facebook
Singer Bobi Wine

Wakiso — As the Kyadondo East Member of Parliament by-election looms large, political campaigns are on and the tough race has attracted six candidates-all jostling for the Parliamentary seat.

The race has opened up opportunities for some mainstream candidates presenting themselves as uniquely qualified and ready to provide the best fodder to the hungry voters.

Key challengers in the race are musician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine who is tussling it out with rival candidates Apollo Kantinti, the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change party flag bearer and FDC-leaning candidate Muwada Nkunyingi contesting as an Independent.

Others include National Resistance Movement (NRM) party's Sitenda Ssebalu, a former MP of the same constituency, Democratic Party's Lillian Babirye Kamoome and Sowedi Kayongo (Independent).

Each of the six candidates claims to be the best placed to deliver for the constituency but come June 26, voters will decide who takes the mantle.

The campaigns have shot high with candidates traversing around the constituency since June 2 after they were nominated to begin campaigns officially.

Who is who in the race?

Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine

Bobi Wine's journey to contest for the Kyadondo East seat started on May 31 when he was officially nominated by the Electoral Commission Returning Officer, Mr Francis Nkurunziza at Kyadondo County headquarters in Kasangati, Wakiso District.

He was in the company of his wife, Barbara Itungo also known as Barbie, fellow singers Ronald Mayinja, Mr Samuel Walter Lubega of Democratic Party (DP) and several of his supporters.

Bobi Wine has started campaigns in an impressive way and is said to have the largest crowds as evidenced at his rallies.

If the people that attend his rallies are to be translated into votes, he would definitely carry the day.

Initially, he had wanted to contest on the FDC ticket since he has over the years enjoyed a cordial relationship with former FDC leader, Dr Kizza Besigye but the party was torn divided on who to support among the three, Bobi Wine, Katinti and Muwada.

Under the FDC party constitution, an incumbent is the automatic candidate in the bi-election

"I come as a servant of the people. I will abide by their interests and I will deliver their messages and cries to the relevant authorities in Parliament. Many of my colleagues are promising roads and heaven on earth, leadership goes beyond that, it is serving the people. We need to get to the roots of all this," said Mr Kyagulanyi.

The singer is riding on his music career to entertain his voters at most of his rallies.

Mr Kyagulanyi has a high mountain to climb as he has to convince a population of more than 40,000 people that constitute Kyadondo East.

While he had glitches with the Buganda Kingdom over land, the celebrated musician is still a darling of many.

"Mr Kyagulanyi could win his contestants by a margin of about five per cent if the elections were to be held today. He is well known because of his music and he is a crowd puller," said Mr Kamoga Zikusooka, a political mobiliser in Kyadondo.

"He should, however, show more humility than he has been if he is to win more hearts to himself," Mr Kamoga added.

He does not rule out the fact that the NRM might take advantage of the prevailing divisions in the Opposition to strengthen its political base.

Mr Apollo Kantinti

The Court of Appeal in April nullified the election Mr Kantinti on grounds that the Electoral Commission did not comply with electoral laws.

Mid last year, High Court judge Isabirye Kaweesa, nullified Kantinti's election and ordered the Electoral Commission to organise fresh elections in his constituency.

This followed a successful petition by NRM's William Sitenda Sebalu who was the runner up in the February 18 2016 election and lost to Kantinti by a small margin of 326 votes.

The returning officer declared Mr Kantinti the winner of the Kyadondo East constituency with 9,005 votes and Mr Sebalu as runner up with 8,679 votes. Mr Kantinti has faced hostility from his voters who accuse him of neglecting them ever since he was elected MP in the February 2016 elections. However, he is not deterred.

"We need unity first, we need to work together and see to it that development comes our way. We have problems of roads, security and other issues which we need to fix," he told Daily Monitor.

In 2010, Mr Kantinti lost to Mr Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda in FDC party primaries.

Because of his strong support for the party, Mr Kantinti campaigned for Mr Ssemuju during the by-election.

However, Mr Richard Kimaza, a business man in Gayaza, believes the poll will be decided by a pro-people candidate.

"Most people want the person who will address their issues" he said.

Mr Muwada Nkunyingi

Mr Muwada Nkunyingi is an FDC leaning candidate.

He is another potential candidate in the race. However, his battles with the party are likely to divide up their votes with Kantinti's.

While some party leaders have opted to support Mr Muwada, the FDC party has warned its members against canvassing support for rival candidates since the party has an official flag bearer.

Mr Muwada has however vowed to prevail over the brutal arrests in the country and to fight corruption among the police institution.

Mr Sitenda Sebalu

Mr Sebalu was MP for Kyadondo County in 2001 before it was split into two. This gives him an edge over others.

Having served in the constituency, he is not new in the eyes of voters.

His voters recall vividly that he is among those that accepted the Shs5m bribe to amend the Constitution to lift the presidential terms to extend the incumbent's term of office.

He can only capitalise on the divisions within FDC to galvanize his ground.

He too, says he has major plans for the voters once elected in power.

"As a constituency, we have many things that we have not yet addressed, we have problems and I believe with the help of our people, we shall fix them. We need to embark on socio development of our area at large," he said.

Ms Lilian Babirye Kamome

Ms Kamome (DP)is the only woman in the race who is struggling to make an impression although she is reportedly not a borne of the constituency.

Mr Sowedi Kayondo

Kayondo is an unknown Independent candidate who only came to the lime light after joining the Kyadondo race. He has a medical background and doesn't not have any political history.

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