After months of disagreement regarding their presidential elections, Ugandans in the diaspora under the UNAA umbrella have come to a consensus to hold fresh elections in September 2018.
The month coincides with their annual convention. This year’s convention is scheduled to take place from August 31 to September 3 in Seattle, however it will be dedicated to campaigns and elections for the association president.
A statement released by the association’s Electoral Commission Secretary, Dr Peter Simbi, states that a meeting of commissioners summoned voted to hold the elections at the convention instead of the 90 days’ grace period that had been suggested by the Board of Trustees chaired by Dr Joseph Buwembo.
“After considering the views offered by each commissioner, a motion was moved either to hold elections within 90 days starting from December 17, 2017 or to hold elections at the next UNAA convention in Seattle in September 2018,” Mr Simbi’s statement reads in part.
“Ten commissioners were present when this matter came up for a vote and meeting quorum requirements were met. The results were as follows; Six commissioners voted in favour of Seattle in September 2018, three voted for 90 days whole one commissioner abstained. I would like to let you know that based on this majority vote, the EC expects and plans to conduct the repeat of elections in Seattle in September 2018,” the statement continues.
The allegedly controversial elections held in September 2017 during the UNAA convention in Miami, were swept by Monday Atigo who emerged President of the association for the second time. He trounced his competitor and rival, Dr Daniel Kawums by 23 votes.
However, the UNAA Board of Trustees (UNAABOT) said the elections were a sham and marred by gross irregularities and that the EC tinkered with the voters’ register consequently allowing 110 illegal voters into the system.
The resolution by the EC means that Monday Atigo who emerged victorious in the controversial polls remains president until September when elections to determine his fate will be held.
However, Dr Kawuma is peddling a different campaign as he is urging his supporters to turn up in large numbers to vote on the February 15.
“Members should disregard the earlier communication by Mr Peter Simbi meant to confuse people that the elections will be in Seattle in 2018. We are voting on February 15,” Dr Kawuma claims quoting the Board of Trustees.
He says that certain members in the Association have approached him with proposals to withdraw his election petition in exchange for a leadership position in UNAA.
Atigo on the other hand claims that the Board of Trustees by Buwembo is only trying to witch-hunt him by causing chaos and divisive politics within the association.
“Once we get to the Seattle at the Annual General Meeting, that's where the members, who are also the Supreme Organ of UNAA will decide on the next course of action. Am legally the President until 2019.This craziness from our Compromised Board of Trustees is only a ploy to create confusion and further divide the organisation. But again I will not stop at anything to defend and protect the Constitution,” Atigo said.
“This craziness from our Compromised Board of Trustees is only a ploy to create confusion and further divide the organization. But again I will not stop at anything to defend and protect the Constitution,” he added.
He also said that he intends not to renew the contract of the board in his capacity as president since they have no good intentions for the association anymore.
“Their term of office ends next march. They have demonstrated a lack of understanding on the goals and objectives of UNAA. We can't have such individuals as leaders. None of them will return to office, they also know it and that's why they are fighting so hard to see me out,” he said.
The Ugandan oldest diaspora group is no stranger to controversial and internal fights. In 2014, five members of the UNAABOT resigned citing a loss of direction by the association in financial and administrative matters.
Those who resigned include; Dr Sarah Matovu (Georgia), Dr Opiyo Oloya (Ontario), Mr James Serumaga (Boston, Massachusetts), Mr Alexander Zabasajja (New Jersey) and Dr Muniini K. Mulera (Ontario.)
The BOT then accused the president Kwesiga Brian and his clique of financial misappropriation, dishonesty and lack of transparency. The source of the problem emanated from government’s $100,000 (153m) annual contribution towards the association.
Meanwhile the UNAA is not the only association for Ugandans in America, others include; UNAA Causes, Banyakigezi headed by Munini Mulera, Twegaitte International, Buganda Buumu.
Also about ten USA states have organisations for Ugandans including; Chicago, Boston, Colorado, UCOCA, Dallas, Seattle and San Francisco.