You betrayed us in Eala elections, UPC tells NRM

Fred Ebil, UPC candidate in Eala elections. PHOTO | COURTESY

The Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) party has turned guns against the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), blaming it for their loss in the just concluded East African Legislative Assembly (Eala) elections.

UPC leaders yesterday accused NRM Members of Parliament of refusing to honour a gentleman’s agreement in which the former was to support the latter’s candidates. In turn, they claimed, NRM was to support UPC’s Fred Ebil to win one of the two Eala slots ring-fenced for Opposition MPs.

Addressing journalists in Kampala on Monday, the UPC legal adviser, Mr Dennis Enap, claimed party leaders were “very traumatised and distressed” after their candidate failed to make it to Eala despite verbal assurance of a block vote from NRM.

“Whereas we did not have any written agreement between us, we trusted them and took their word when they said our candidate was going to win the Eala elections,” Mr Enap said.

“They have breached this trust and we cannot trust them again. We will disassociate ourselves from the NRM party going forward,” he added.

The NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) chaired by President Museveni last month resolved to maintain all the six incumbent party MPs in Eala.

These include Ms Rose Akol, Mr Denis Namara, Mr James Kakooza, Mr Stephen George Odongo, and Mr Paul Musamali.

Mr Museveni also endorsed candidates of UPC, Democratic Party, and Jeema, and asked the NRM MPs to accord them full support.

Each EAC member state is allotted nine elective positions at the Arusha-based Eala. In Uganda, six are ring-fenced for the ruling NRM; one goes to Independents while the Opposition parties are left to battle for two.

Museveni’s earlier position

“Of the remaining three [slots], two will belong to political parties, and responsible political parties, which are not disruptive. The UPC are quite a good party, the DP and the Jeema are working well with the NRM in IPOD,” Mr Museveni said.

He added: “We need two but we have three and we cannot resolve that here, so you go and sort it out in the Parliament. But FDC is hostile, the other group of Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine-led NUP), is hostile. That leaves you with three [parties] from which to choose the two.”

The President also instructed the NRM lawmakers to “vote independents who are NRM leaning.”

However, whereas all the six NRM candidates went through the Eala elections, which were conducted at Parliament last week, UPC and Jeema candidates failed.

Instead, the two slots were taken by NRM-leaning independents; Ms Veronica Babirye Kadogo and Ms Jacqueline Amongin.

From the Opposition, only DP’s Gerald Siranda made it to Eala and his success was attributed to their current cooperation with the NRM government.

UPC members accused the NRM of being “selfish” and deceitful”.

Mr Higenyi Kemba, a member of the UPC National Council, claimed that eight of the candidates who went through were NRM supporters. 

“NRM lied to us that we are cooperating. They told us it was a sure win for our candidate but they took everything. This is deceitful, hypocrisy and hostility. We disassociate ourselves from them,” Mr Higenyi said.

He said if NRM was still interested in their cooperation, they should initiate talks with the party structure and have a signed agreement.

He threatened that if this is not done, the party will in 2026 front their presidential candidate.

“We are a strong party with structures across the country. No one can beat us in the north, so if Museveni still wants to work with us, they should come out clear. We are tired of being used and dumped,” Mr Higenyi said.

NRM responds

But the NRM communications director, Mr Emmanuel Dombo, said their cooperation with UPC should not be a matter of discussion in the media, advising that they lodge a formal complaint.

“I am sure these were not official members of the party because if they were or if it was the party president, they couldn’t have gone through the media,” Mr Dombo said.

“These issued a plain statement which was not signed. UPC has an address. I am sure these were masqueraders. If we receive official communication from the party, we shall respond,” Mr Dombo added.

UPC party president Jimmy Akena in 2021 admitted that he was working closely with President Museveni and the NRM party because he wants to take over the country’s presidency in 2026.