What you need to know:
- However, the Electoral Commission (EC) said the election will go on as planned since there is no official withdrawal of the candidates.
President Museveni reportedly convinced National Unity Platform (NUP) party candidate in the Gogonyo parliamentary by-election, Mr Joseph Okoboi Opolot, and his Independent counterpart, Mr Issa Bantalib Taligola, to step down in favour of the ruling party’s Derrick Orone.
Mr Okoboi and Mr Taligola withdrew from the race on Tuesday following a meeting with President Museveni.
Sources in NRM, who were part of the delegation, said the President convinced the two candidates to stand down in favour of the NRM candidate.
However, the Electoral Commission (EC) said the election will go on as planned since there is no official withdrawal of the candidates as per to Section 19 (2) of the Parliamentary Elections Act.
Mr Okoboi announced that he was withdrawing from the race during the final NRM rally where Mr Museveni was campaigning for the party candidate at Agurur Primary School. Mr Taligola also announced his withdrawal at the second rally at Kaukura Primary School in Kaukura Sub-county.
“Your excellency, I had quit the party because I had been frustrated when my victory was taken away from me. These people know it. But it’s good to be back to the almighty party and lam ready to support the NRM candidate,” Mr Okoboi told the President during the rally.
He also said following his August 7 meeting with Papa Paul Sande Emorot, the Emorimor of Teso, he opted out of the race.
Mr Okoboi also communicated his decision to the secretary general of NUP on August 7.
“I have deeply consulted with our cultural leader, the Emorimori Lo Iteso and immediate family and agreed as follows that in keeping with our cultural and social network, having evaluated my political progress and balance and also valuing my family will of standing in Gogonyo County, I have opted out of the forthcoming elections due on the August 11 on my own free will,” Mr Okoboi stated in his letter.
Whereas there were allegations that Mr Okoboi was paid to withdraw from the race, he maintains that he did it for the good of the party.
Mr Taligola’s withdrawal is said to have been brokered by the NRM vice chairperson (eastern region), Mr Mike Mukula.
While addressing the NRM rally at Kaukura Primary School, Mr Taligola applauded the President’s parental advice.
“With due respect to this advice and for the good and harmony of the people of Gogonyo, I declare that I have stepped down in favour of the NRM candidate,” Mr Taligola said.
President Museveni welcomed the decision of the two candidates.
“I campaigned for Mr Derrick Orone, the NRM candidate for the Gogonyo County by-elections in Pallisa District. I commend the decision by his competitors to step down and welcome them to the NRM, an all-inclusive party,” he tweeted on Tuesday.
The two candidates were yesterday expected to officially hand in their notification letters of withdrawal to the Electoral Commission as prescribed by the law.
Mr Moses Okurut, a resident of Kapala, said Mr Okoboi’s withdrawal from the race was anticipated right from the start of the campaigns.
“We knew right from the time of nominations that he wasn’t serious. He has been seen on several occasions in secret meetings with NRM leaders,” he claimed.
The Gogonyo County seat fell vacant after the Court of Appeal in June nullified Orone’s victory on grounds that there were election irregularities. Mr Taligola,who garnered 6,280 votes against Orone’s 6,314 votes rejected the poll results and petitioned Mbale High Court on grounds that there was an excess of 16 polling stations and falsification of results at Katukei Fellowship Church polling station.