Opposition fail to agree on joint candidates for EALA elections, threaten to boycott

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The opposition political parties in Uganda on Thursday failed to agree on joint candidates to compete in the forthcoming East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) election due next week.

This follows a caucus meeting held today by six opposition political parties with representation in parliament, with an intention to agree on joint candidates to contest against National Resistance Movement (NRM) organization candidates as well as independents in the race for the regional parliament.

The election process which has been shunned by NUP -the largest opposition party in parliament, kicked off this week and has attracted aspirants from opposition Forum for Democratic Change FDC, Democratic Party DP, Uganda Oeoples’ Congress UPC, Justice Forum also known as JEEMA, and 18 other independents. The Peoples’ Progressive Party did not field a candidate.

“We did not declare support for any candidate from the opposition because our position for participation is still equivocal -meaning that we have not yet agreed on a position of participation.” Leader of opposition in parliament Mathias Mpuuga said after the meeting.

Mpuuga said the meeting resolved that each of the parties convene its caucus to deliberate on some of the dicy matters in the process they discussed today pending another opposition caucus meeting next week to come up with joint candidates. He however noted that today’s meeting also considered a possiblity of the opposition parties entirely withdrawing from the race.

The LOP who subscribes to the National Unity Platform said that by his party declaring a stance of non-participation does not negate his duty of leading the participating political parties in the race for EALA. He reiterated the stance of his party and other parties on the EALA election process describing it as “prejudicial” and therefore putting the opoosition in a position where they must submit to the whims of the ruling party.

As has been the practice, the ruling NRM which enjoys a confortable majority in parliament takes Six of Nine slots for Uganda in EALA, the opposition fights for Two, while the independents have one slot.

In a twist of fate, the NRM has since courted UPC and DP leaving the other four in the cold. This means that the four -FDC, NUP, JEEMA and PPP who lack numbers in the house are left with no choice but to look on if NRM throws its weight behind the DP and UPC candidates.

Mpuuga said the opposition is considering a boycott owing to “the skewed nature of the electoral process” and the non-compliance to the convenants of the East African Community especially Article 50 of the EAC treaty.

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