Uganda Elections 2006: Parties Scheming for Parliamentary Seats
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First published: January 17, 2006
Nominations for Parliamentary candidates were held on Thursday January 12th and Friday January 13th 2006 beginning another platform on which parties have to show their might if they are to ensure they dictate or at least control matters for the next five years.
Presidential Parliamentary and LC5 (district Chairperson) elections will be held on the same day, February 23rd 2006.
All parties are fully aware that while it is important to win the national presidency, it is equally important to have a majority of the Members of Parliament if the elected government is to have its way in the national legislature.
Any lesser achievement than a majority in Parliament will mean the winning government will have a hard time implementing their manifesto and program unless they are to depend on coalitions, which do not have a good history in many African countries, let alone Uganda. Many of you may want to remember the result of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) and Kabaka Yekka (KY) Alliance of 1965.
So as they campaign to take charge of the country, both the ruling National Resistance Movement Organization (NRM-O), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) and the Democratic Party are hoping they can get enough Members of Parliament to help them manage the government. Because of the odds against him to win this election, few people, if any, are thinking of how Independent candidate Dr. Abed Bwanika will run the government when he doesnt have a party or stable supporters to help him run the government. Of course the parties are also aware that even if their Presidential candidates lose, their having a good or majority number of Members of Parliament is a good consolation and can always play in their favour, if for nothing else to at least to prepare good ground for the particular majority party to win the next elections.
As a result, the NRM-O Presidential candidate, Yoweri Museveni who is also the current President of Uganda has laboured on almost every rally to call upon party supporters to field only one Parliamentary candidate in any given constituency so that they dont divide votes of the party and hand victories to the opposition candidates. Museveni, who is the Chairman of the NRM-O party, has even threatened to suspend any member who dares to stand as an independent candidate in any constituency. But following the violence and fraudulent allegations that marred NRM-O party elections for who should be the partys flag bearers in the constituencies, many NRM-O faithfuls have gone ahead to contest for Parliamentary seats as independent candidates against their own party members.
Even other parties like DP have been marred by the same scenario where people who felt they were cheated in the party primaries decided to stand against the official DP flag bearers even in DP strongholds like Makindye East where current MP, Michael Mabike is standing against official party candidate, Sarah Ssebagala. This of course has a lot of bearing on what a particular party will achieve on elections day.
One of the strategies that parties are using to ensure their official candidates win is to offer them financial support to beat their rivals. The NRM- O is reported to be giving its official candidates 10million shillings as campaign facilitation. The Democratic Party is reported to be doing the same. The NRM-O party has gone ahead to promise big jobs to losers in primary polls to discourage them from competing against other NRM-O candidates.
The opposition on the other hand is depending on allying or also fielding one candidate per party, but the results are far more satisfactory for NRM-O than any opposition party. The head of international relations in the FDC, Reagan Okumu who is convinced that FDC is going to win with a landslide victory in the Presidential polls on Monday January 16, 2006 said that FDCs first government will be a transition government and will have members of other parties including the ruling NRM in its cabinet.
If you read between the lines, this FDC official is conceding their likely poor performance in Parliamentary elections. The NRM already had 10 seats since their 10 of their MPs have already been returned unopposed.
Okumu however says the reason FDC will not get a landslide in the Parliamentary elections is because they agreed not to field candidates in areas where there are strong opposition members whom they hope would support their programs in the 8th Parliament.
Recently, the National Progressive Alliance Party (PAP) declared that they had reached an understanding with the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) to support their Presidential Candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye in return for FDCs support for PAP Parliamentary candidates in unspecified constituencies.
He also says some FDC candidates preferred to stand as independents for fear of intimidation and harassment from the state agents. This is politics, and anything can be something. But the prospect of an opposition candidate winning the presidential election is being tested by the fact that they will not get enough seats in Parliament to help their government as Museveni has depended on the majority in Parliament of the last 10 years.
That is why between now and February 23rd, 2006, many parties are minding much about who is elected in each constituency as they are about who wins the Presidential elections.
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First published: January 17, 2006
Gerald Rulekere is a Journalist and member of Ultimate Media Consult. He has written and published extensively on business and gender issues and been writing for Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd for the last two years. A professional and graduate journalist, Rulekere is always looking for an opportunity to better his writing especially for international media.