The unexpected operationalisation of Lira City by Parliament has forced many area politicians to revise their strategies ahead of the 2021 General Election.
Last week, Parliament approved that the operationalisation of Soroti, Lira and Hoima cities be brought forward to the current financial year from the planned 2021/2022 financial year.
In April, Parliament had approved the creation of seven cities of Fort Portal, Masaka, Mbarara, Gulu, Mbale and Arua, which started on July 1.
For Lira, the new development has seen many area aspirants return to the drawing board on which positions to contest for and in which administrative area.
This is because some of those who had expressed interest in positions in Lira District now find themselves in Lira city.
For instance, the incumbent Lira District chairperson, Mr Alex Oremo, is battling to retain his seat against long time rivals Vincent Obong Eyit and Anthony Ojuka.
Mr Obong, Ms Santa Angella, Mr William Onyanga and Mr Ojuka are all eyeing the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) ticket. But most of these aspirants are geographically based in the Lira city, which automatically makes them ineligible to contest for the district top seat.
This leaves the incumbent chairperson without any major challenger.
Mr Obong told Daily Monitor that he has now decided to contest for the newly created Lira West Division MP seat after consulting his party.
“This city needs a person like me who has contributed to its development. I have invested in a secondary school which is contributing to the improvement of access to education in the region,” he said on Saturday.
Mr Obong is the proprietor of Light Vocational Secondary School in Lira.
Mr Ojuka, who hails from Lira Sub-county that will be annexed to Lira city, said he will also vie for the Lira West MP seat. “I no longer fall under Lira District, so I am going for the seat of Lira West Division MP. That is where I now belong,” Mr Ojuka said.
Maj (Rtd) Polly Awich of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party is also eyeing the same seat.
However, Ms Angella, who is a councillor for Ngetta and Adekokwok sub-counties that have been annexed to form Lira East Division, said she is yet to consult her voters on her next political move.
Lira District vice chairperson George Okello Ayo said he will also change goal posts to the new city.
Mr Okello had initially shown interest in contesting for Erute South parliamentary seat under UPC together with the incumbent, Mr Jonathan Odur, and Mr Sam Engola of NRM.
Mr Okello said he now intends to contest for the Lira East Division parliamentary seat together with Lira Municipality MP Jimmy Akena under the UPC ticket.
Mr Okello is the councillor representing Ngetta Sub-county but the latter has been annexed to Lira city.
Mr Engola, who is hoping to reclaim his Erute South parliamentary seat from UPC’s Odur, is a resident of Adekokwok Sub-county. Adekokwok has also been annexed to Lira city.
The sub-counties of Lira, Adyel and Ojwina divisions form Lira West Division while Ngetta, Iwal, and Adekokwok sub-counties have been added to Central and Railways divisions to form Lira East Division.
New MP seats
Parliament last week approved the creation of 66 new seats, bringing to 523 the total number of MPs in the next Parliament.
The House, chaired by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, also approved an amendment to the earlier resolution that led to the creation of 15 new cities to allow Hoima, Soroti and Lira cities to be operationalised as of July 1.