Chaos As NRM EALA Elections Postponed
A caucus meeting convened by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party to elect its representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) turned chaotic and was called off.
The meeting, which was scheduled for 10 am today February 7, 2017 at State House Entebbe, was a scene of exchange of words and near fist fight between some legislators and the NRM Electoral Commission chairman, Dr. Tanga Odoi over the electoral process.
Trouble started after the MPs were issued with guidelines for the elections hours to the polls, which sought to elect 6 members to be approved by Parliament on February 27th.
When voting was about to commence, the MPs were shocked to learn from Dr Tanga that they would be voting for 7 slots. These included a representative each from North, East, West, Central and Kampala.
Furthermore, a position was created for the women slot and a seat for special interest groups, where workers, youths and Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), fall.
This infuriated a number of MPs including Buyaga MP Barnabas Tinkasimire, Arua Woman MP, Maureen Osoru, Ngora Woman MP, Jackline Amongin who accused Tanga of tinkering with the guidelines to create an additional slot yet the NRM is expected to front only 6 positions.
NRM Secretary General, Justine Lumumba also openly rejected the 7 positions, insisting that there should be 6 slots to be voted for. Efforts by the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, Tanga and Al Hajji Moses Kigongo to calm the legislators proved futile.
At this point, journalists who were covering the process were directed to leave the room.
President Yoweri Museveni, who had earlier addressed the MPs in his capacity as party chairman, later ordered that fresh elections are held tomorrow Wednesday February 8th at 2 pm.
With the number of candidates previously standing at 43, 5 pulled out a day to the polls while one of the candidates and former Bunyole MP, Emmanuel Dombo pulled out of the race shortly before the exercise at State House, citing irregularities in the process. Dombo further contended that it was wrong to lump candidates according to regions, warning that it would divide the party.
This means that 37 candidates will tussle it out during the fresh polls. Earlier, President Museveni warned the MPs against viewing the race to EALA as a job opportunity, rather an important and crucial service to the country.
“These elections are not just elections. These are not employment bureaus. You are not here to give jobs to jobless people. You are here to select people to support integration of East Africa,” Museveni stated.