Uganda: Four Eye Upc Presidency

22 October 2020

Four people have expressed interest to lead the Uganda Peoples Congress following the Court of Appeal ruling that nullified the leadership by Mr Jimmy Akena and ordered fresh party elections.

The aspirants are those who subscribe to the faction led by Mr Peter Walubiri, who was designated acting party president after the ruling by the Court of Appeal.

Mr Hamza Ssewankambo, the chairperson of the party electoral commission, told Daily Monitor that the process to elect a new party president has been delayed by restrictions on gatherings.

He, however, said they are now verifying persons, who will sit at the district and delegates conferences, which nominate and elect.

"Under the constitution, those vying for the party leadership must be nominated by the district conference, and we are scrutinising those that are eligible to be part. The party last had elections in 2015 and we are trying to verify all persons. We will then compile a list of delegates. So far, four people have expressed interest and we are looking at their papers," Mr Ssewankambo said.

Mr Ishaa Otto, the secretary general, said the four include Dan Okello, Dan Opul, Peter Walubiri and Joseph Othieno.

The September 7 ruling by the Court of Appeal that disposed an appeal filed by Mr Akena against the ruling by High Court judge Yasin Nyanzi in 2015, ordered the party to conduct fresh elections after declaring Mr Akena's presidency illegal.

On 0ctober 2, Mr Walubiri appointed a five-member committee led by Mr Ssewankambo to oversee the process.

The faction is hopeful for a presidential candidate but with nominations scheduled for November 2 and 3, it is unclear whether they will be able to beat the deadline.

Mr Ssewankambo said they are racing against time to work within the programme of the Electoral Commission (EC).

Mr Otto said: "We have asked them to set a date so that by the end of this month we have our candidate."

As the battle for the party rages on, Mr Otto accused the EC of deliberately refusing to acknowledge the legal leadership of the party. He said the Commission is fuelling illegalities and continued divisions in the party.

Mr Otto said most of the aspirants they endorsed were not nominated on the UPC candidates in favour of those endorsed by the Akena leadership.

"Only five of the candidates I endorsed were nominated as UPC, while 22 had to come as Independents after being turned away. Why then did the EC nominate these five that I had endorsed? We have won all cases against Akena and he has no legitimacy to nominate. All those nominated are illegal," Mr Otto said.

The Electoral Commission has constantly argued that they have not received any notice to cause a change in leadership of the party, continuing to recognise Mr Akena as the legitimate leader.

Daily Monitor has seen a letter addressed to the chairperson of the EC explaining the verdict of the court and the resultant changes in leadership.

"In line with this ruling, we wish to request your office to stop forth with continued engagement with James Micheal Akena as UPC President and to avoid dealings with his accomplices in the name of the leadership of UPC party. Until new elections are held as directed by the Court of Appeal, the legitimate president of UPC is Mr Peter Mukidi Walubiri," the letter sates in part.

Meanwhile, the Akena-led faction continues to conduct electoral business and they say they have 45 nominated parliamentary candidates.

Secretary General of the faction, Mr Dan Bakabulinde also said they have received the money for political parties under the Inter Party Organisation for Dialogue from the Electoral Commission. He, however, decried the distribution criteria basing on numerical strength which saw them getting only Shs300m and yet all parties are now undertaking electoral processes and the funds should be distributed equally.

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