NUP backs FDC candidate in Soroti by-election

Mr Moses Okia Attan speaks to the media at Parliament on May 20, 2021.PHOTO/DAVID LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • NUP said their support for Mr Moses Ottan was in “broader interest of the unity of the Forces of Change.

The opposition National Unity Platform (NUP) led by former presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine has opted to back a Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate in the forthcoming Soroti East parliamentary by-election instead of fronting their own candidate.

“As the National Unity Platform, we will back the FDC candidate, Hon. Attan Moses,” NUP announced Thursday.

The Court of Appeal on May 24, 2022 annulled the election of Mr Attan and ordered for fresh election for the directly-elected MP for Soroti City East Constituency.
In their unanimous ruling, three justices led by Cheborion Barishaki nullified the election of Okia’s victory on grounds that it was illegal for the Electoral Commission (EC) to reconstitute the boundaries of Soroti City East Constituency by removing the parishes of Aloet and Opilyai and placing them under Soroti City West Constituency.
“EC had no powers to distort the composition of the Soroti City East Constituency by removing the parishes of Aloet and Opilyai, which had 1,337 voters and 3,896 voters respectively and placing them where the said voters did not belong,” the justices ruled.
The appellate court said it had no reason to fault the earlier decision of the High Court in Soroti that had also annulled Mr Ottan’s victory.

MP Otytan’s victory had been challenged by his political rival, Mr Herbert Edmund Ariko of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), who stated that there were election malpractices and voter disenfranchisement.

 Speaker of Parliament, Ms Anita Among on July 3, told the electorate in Soroti District that Ariko would be contesting for the same seat on the NRM ticket after the party senior members, including President Museveni who is their chairman, endorsed him.

“… I have decided to bring back your foot soldier Herbert Ariko, who has been working in my office as executive secretary back to you. He will be contesting in the Soroti City East by-election on NRM ticket,” Ms Among said during a ceremony to ordain priests and deacons at Holy Family Parish Gweri in Soroti Diocese presided over by Soroti Diocese Bishop, Rt Rev Dr Joseph Eciro.

However, NUP said Thursday that their support for Mr Ottan was in “broader interest of the unity of the Forces of Change.”

“Although we had very good potential candidates in Soroti, we are doing this in the broader interest of the unity of the Forces of Change. We believe that Hon. Attan legitimately won the previous election which was interrupted by a court decision. Therefore, we shall be supporting him, and rallying the people of Soroti to take him back to Parliament. We are stronger when we come together!” NUP added in a statement ahead of the July 18, 2022 by-election.

The Electoral Commission chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama warned those intending to take part in the election against violence.

“I wish to emphasise that a credible electoral process is largely a multi-stakeholder responsibility. All stakeholders should, therefore, take keen interest in the processes and commit to ensuring an enabling environment that enhances participation at all levels. We further appeal to you to promote peaceful conduct during your mobilisation for the above electoral activities,” he said.

In the recently concluded elections in Omoro County, security forces were at the centre of meting out violence against the opposition candidates and their supporters.
It is not clear if this call will be heeded in Soroti East, which is an opposition stronghold.

“We urge you to preach peace, unity, tolerance, respect for divergent views, and acceptance of the outcome or resorting to peaceful resolution of emerging electoral related conflicts through Courts of Law,” Justice Byabakama said on June 6.