Saturday March 12 2016

Speaker race to dominate NRM party retreat agenda

Clockwise: Incumbent Speaker Rebecca Kadaga,

Clockwise: Incumbent Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, NRM Women’s league chairperson Lydia Wanyoto, incumbent Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah and Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, all possible aspirants for the speakership seat. 

By Solomon Arinaitwe

Kampala. Jockeying for nominations for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker will be top on the agenda when newly elected legislators of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) convene for an eight-day retreat at the National Leadership Institute (Nali) in Kyankwanzi tomorrow.
With an overwhelming majority of more than 280 MPs out of 458 MPs, whoever is nominated on the NRM ticket will be in stellar position of grabbing two of the country’s most coveted jobs, with the Opposition still undecided on whether they will field candidates for the posts.
To retain her job, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga will have to fend off a challenge from her Deputy Jacob Oulanyah, who will seek nomination for the party’s endorsement to challenge his boss after deputising her for one term.

The duo endured a frosty relationship during the Ninth Parliament with Mr Oulanyah once accusing his boss of using him to pass controversial laws such as the Public Order Management Act and Petroleum (Exploration, Development and Production) Act, 2012. In a telephone interview yesterday, Mr Oulanyah declined delving into the debate of his plans to participate in the contest for speakership.
“What do you want me to say? That yes, I am coming [to seek nomination] or no I am not coming? I have said I can neither confirm nor deny. For you to ask for a confirmation from me [means that] you must have heard from a very reliable source,” Mr Oulanyah said.

Mr Oulanyah, who won a contentious election in Omoro County after being declared winner without counting of votes, faces the possibility of a suit challenging his parliamentary victory - a hurdle that has the potential of derailing his campaigns in Kyankwanzi. MPs against his candidature will broach the matter of his problematic re-election. In Kyankwanzi, some NRM MPs are expected to argue that one of the available slots of Speaker or Deputy Speaker be used to reward a region where President Museveni won in the just concluded elections. This debate could also potentially ruin Mr Oulanyah’s candidature as Mr Museveni was defeated in Acholi.

Kutesa possibility
Reports have been making rounds that Foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa will also seek the nomination of the party for speakership but the Mawogola County MP yesterday insisted he is comfortable with the Foreign Affairs docket.
“I am not interested in being Speaker. I am happy where I am- I have better fish to fry,” Mr Kutesa said in a telephone interview. Mr Kutesa would first have to resign as minister if he was to run for speakership as House rules bar the vice president, prime minister or minister from contesting for the post.
For deputy speaker, Lydia Wanyoto, who will be running for the Workers MP seat on the ticket of the National Chairperson of the Uganda Scientists, Researchers and Allied Workers Union (USRAWU) if her bid is successful, is a possible contender.