Joy, tears, drama as MPs elect nine representatives for Eala

Aringa South MP Alioni Yorke Odria (left) protests over vote rigging during the election of Eala representatives on September 29, 2022. PHOTOS/ DAVID LUBOWA 

What you need to know:

  • Legislators campaigned, cheered for their favourite candidates and occasionally burst into laughter as they listened to the contestants’ manifestos.

Nine Ugandan representatives have been voted to the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).

They include Ms Rose Akol (NRM), Mr Denis Namara (NRM), Mr James Kakooza (NRM), Mr Stephen George Odongo (NRM), and Mr Paul Musamali (NRM).
Others are Ms Veronica Babirye Kadogo (Ind), Ms Mary Mugyenyi (NRM), Ms Jacqueline Amongin (Ind), and Mr Gerald Siranda (DP).
Lawmakers elected the finalists during a tight day’s exercise yesterday at Parliament following last week’s nomination of all the 28 candidates.

There are 529 legislators in the 11th Parliament with more than 330 of these belonging to the NRM party, 109 are Opposition and the rest are independents.  
A total of 478 MPs voted for the Eala representatives, six did not vote, while 11 votes were invalid.

The nine Eala representatives at Parliament shortly after their election on September 29, 2022. 

Members of the National Unity Platform (NUP) shunned the exercise after previously affirming they will not field candidates in the election, citing unfairness by the NRM for ring-fencing the majority of the positions, among other reasons.

The successful have vowed to address pertinent issues at Eala, including the blockage of Ugandan exports in neighbouring East African Community (EAC) partner states, protect Uganda’s local industries within the partner states, advocate for more use of Kiswahili language in member states to ease trade and communication as well as coordinate structures with the aim of attaining political unity and pushing for a uniform body of applicable laws.
Ms Anita Among, the Speaker of Parliament, urged the winners to base their work on universality.
 “Once we vote the nine members, they cease to be party members, they [instead] become members of Eala coming from Uganda,” she said.

Yesterday’s voting exercise started at 10am with campaigns which were followed by the voting process that ended at about 6.30pm before Ms Among recalled the House to give the final results at about 6.55pm.
Article 49 of the EAC Treaty establishes Eala as a legislative organ with core functions, including legislating, oversight and representation.
As the winners celebrated, some of the losers were seen being comforted by their supporters.

The mood
It was a full House as legislators campaigned, cheered for their favourite candidates and occasionally burst into laughter when some of the candidates presented their manifestos.
“Once you elect me to represent you in the East African Parliament, I am going to continue working with you and make sure every member of [11th] Parliament makes it into the 12th Parliament,” Ms Babirye Kadogo (Ind) said, attracting a cheers from the House.

During the campaigns, Mr Eddie Kwizera (Bukimbiri County) collapsed and was taken out of the House for treatment.   At about midday, Mr Alioni Yorke Odria (Aringa South) stormed the House with a ballot box of pre-ticked ballot papers and accused some individuals of ballot stuffing and rigging the elections.
He repeatedly shouted: “There is rigging happening here. Vote rigging! Vote rigging. I am ready to die. The ballot boxes have been stuffed.”

A few moments later, he punched a police officer on the neck. The officer walked away from the legislator.
With media trailing him, the charged lawmaker then hurriedly walked off to Parliament’s South parking lot where a team was setting up ballot boxes [under a tent] that were to be utilised later for the voting exercise.
“Media should stay here [to observe the situation]. There is rigging taking place,” Mr Odia said. He eventually walked away.

MPs cheer on Mr George Stephen Odongo of NRM as he campaigns during the election. 

Ms Among later condemned his behaviour before issuing a stern warning.
“When you start fighting...You are beating a police officer? Assuming he opens a case against you, what happens? It is very unfortunate. I cannot be a leader of hooligans,” Ms Among said.
“You cannot start slapping an innocent police officer. These police officers are on duty and are human beings like us. I won’t tolerate it [unruly behaviour]. It won’t happen,” she added.

The Speaker urged MPs to respect each other and the institution.
Ms Among proceeded to announce a break for four weeks and asked the legislators to return to their constituencies to do oversight work on government programmes, especially on the Parish Development Model.
She tasked Eala representatives to file periodical reports on the progress of the  matters they address at the legislative assembly.
“Have the overall goal of putting Uganda first and her priorities,” Ms Among concluded.