KAARO KARUNGI | URN – The National Unity Platform, now the largest opposition political party in parliament with 57 MPs has told its members to vote for Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga as speaker of parliament.
The do or die contest is happen now at the Kololo Ceremonial Grounds.
According to sources who attended a meeting of NUP leaders that took place yesterday, the party resolved not to come out publicly and declare their preferred candidate for speaker but asked their members to vote for Kadaga. Kadaga is contesting with his former deputy Jacob Oulanyah and the former opposition chief whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda of the Forum for Democratic Change. According to two MPs who attended the meeting that went late into the night yesterday, the party couldn’t bring itself to supporting Ssemujju who they view as a threat to the party interests.
‘We can’t support Ssemujju for speaker; FDC has fought us for a long time and the last thing is to give their member a platform,” the MP said. “However, it’s also politically risky to come out publicly and oppose him because the public will misunderstand us.’
Another MP said that the decision by Kadaga to contest as an independent also gave them a new lease of life. “There are members who wouldn’t bring themselves to supporting an NRM candidate, now that she’s independent she gives us cover,” the MP said. “But even then there is an entrenched position by some of our supporters who believe the opposition should support Ssemujju.”
NUP had hoped to have their own candidate, however none of its senior members was willing to take on the challenge. Senior MPs like Medard Sseggona, Betty Nambooze, Mathias Mpuuga, Joseph Ssewungu among others are staunch supporters of Kadaga. The party convinced Kampala woman MP Shamim Malende to contest for the position of deputy speaker.
Our effort to speak to NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi failed, and party Secretary General David Lewis Rubongoya did not pick our repeated calls to their known telephone numbers.However, speaking to NBS Television, NUP deputy president MP Mathias Mpuuga said the party allowed its members to take individual decisions on who they should vote for.
“By the time we convened a meeting of the party we thought it was late to come up with a candidate, we therefore decide to let the members make their individual choice,” Mpuuga said.
When asked why the party wouldn’t support Ssemujju, a fellow opposition member, Mpuuga said they are not under any obligation to do so. “‘We are NUP and he’s FDC, there wouldn’t be any crime if the members voted for Ssemujju Nganda,” Mpuuga said.