Fight for MP seat divides NRM members in Pallisa

The NRM leaning independent candidate, Mr Issa Taligola Bantalib (with a black mask), during a meeting with President M useveni at State House last week. PHOTO | PPU

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party leaning independent candidate, Mr Issa Taligola Bantalib, who is in the race for the parliamentary seat for the Gogonyo County by-election in Pallisa District, has refused to step down for the party flag bearer, Mr Derrick Orone.

The election will take place on August 11 for the seat, which fell vacant after the Court of Appeal ruled that the incumbent, Mr Orone, was irregularly elected.

The petition was filed by Mr Taligola, who was the second runner up in the 2021 parliamentary election alleging that Mr Orone engaged in bribery, undue influence, sectarianism and defamation.

During a meeting presided over by President Museveni at State House on Tuesday with the NRM bigwigs, including the director for mobilisation at the NRM secretariat, Ms Rosemary Sseninde, Mr Taligola was asked to step down and support Mr Orone but he refused.

While addressing his supporters at his home in Pallisa Town Council last Friday, Mr Taligola  said he would not betray the people that have trusted him.

“I refuse to step down for anybody. Whoever wants me to step down should first kill me because I cannot betray the people of Gogonyo who have put their trust in me,” he said.

The race has attracted two other candidates, including Mr Francis Mukula [Ind] and Mr Joseph Okoboi, National Unity Platform [NUP).

Mr John Ogaja, the Amoni Parish chairperson, said although  they are strong supporters of the NRM, they will not support the flag bearer.

“For me I have been in NRM since the time it came into power and I am a cardre but I will not support the flag bearer,” Mr Ogaja said.

Mr John Omaido, an elder, said the NRM party should not force them to vote wrongly.  “We have a right to vote for our leader without imposing on us somebody. We will decide who will represent us,” he said.

The Pallisa NRM chairperson, Mr George Omoding, urged NRM supporters and leaders to unite and strengthen the party ahead of the election.

“As leaders, we are ready to deliver a peaceful, free and fair NRM victory. No doubt about that,” he said.

Mr John Bosco Okello, the chairperson of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) in Pallisa, says people of Gogonyo want a person who will unite them, lobby for services and  cause economic development in the constituency.

“People need a committed leader, who will drive them out of poverty but not to create divisionism in the country,” he says.

While addressing a meeting with NRM local leaders and sub-county chairpersons last week, Mr Orone pleaded for forgiveness from the local leaders he could have wronged.

He said after election, he would ensure extension of electricity as part of his effort to create employment.

The director for mobilisation at the NRM secretariat, Ms Rosemary Seninde, says the party leaders should put aside their difference if they are to secure a win in the elections.

“If we are divided, we can never win. Much as we have no Opposition in Pallisa, if we continue being divided, we won’t win,” she says.

Candidate profiles

Mr Derrick Orone, the NRM flagbearer,  37, is an information computer expert and the incumbent.

Mr Francis Mukula (Ind), 48, is an accountant and has  worked with several NGOs and government agencies.

Mr Issa Bantalib Taligola, 50,  was at the forefront in spearheading the creation of Gogonyo County. He formerly served as the Pallisa District chairperson.

Mr Joseph Okoboi, a NUP flagbearer, 40, is a businessman with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.