By Patrick Oboi Amuriat
We received very disturbing news about the disqualification of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) candidate for Pallisa Woman MP, Ms. Catherine Achola Osupelem on grounds that she used an additional name to what appears on her academic certificates.
We consider this unfair to the candidate and the FDC as well as a threat to Uganda’s democracy and the growth of political parties. This has also resulted in the people of Pallisa being deprived of their democratic right to choose their leader.
It is so unfortunate that the NRM under the chairmanship of Mr. Museveni have decided to use the back door with false claims to cause the disqualification of a candidate just because she subscribes to a successful opposition political party.
It is public knowledge that it is lawful for any citizen to add a name to his/hers and swear an affidavit to that effect, after which the name preferred by that person is gazzetted and can qualify to be included as his or her official reference. The example of Gen. David Ssejusa who was formerly known as Gen. David Tinyefuza is one such case that gained prominence. As far as we know, Ms Catherine Achola Osupelem went through all those processes to adopt the name Osupelem, her late father’s name. All must be shocked to hear that it was inclusion of this name to her nomination papers that caused her disqualification. Interestingly, Ms. Achola was nominated a candidate in the 2016 Parliamentary elections using the same documents she presented this time. It’s also true that many serving members of parliament sit in the house having sworn for change of names and there have been judgements passed by courts of law in favor of a few whose victories were contested.
By disqualifying Ms. Achola, the EC under the leadership of Justice Byabakama acted in a partisan manner hence paving way for the NRM candidate to become an MP unopposed, just like that!
The Justice Byabakama Commission methods of work have reminded me of the EC under chairman Eng. Dr. Badru Kigundu who acted with high level of impunity to deny Ugandans a chance to have a peaceful transfer of power by declaring Mr. Museveni winner of the general elections not once but thrice. Any benefit of doubt that could have been given to the new commissioners can now be safely withdrawn given the conduct of recent elections under their watch.
What has just happened in Pallisa is a build up of mischief from the last two parliamentary bye-elections. In Jinja Municipality East the use of forged ballot papers produced from the EC template and bravery in announcing falsified results at the tally center in Rukungiri, are an indictment on the EC. We are aware that due to our recent two victories there was determination by the NRM to urgently stop this trend and Pallisa with the aid of the EC presented such opportunity for this to happen. What the EC has done in Pallisa is to inadvertently politically destroy the NRM candidate who in the eyes of the Pallisa electorate will be an EC MP if she is allowed by court.
The FDC national leadership will stand with the people of Pallisa and our flag bearer in particular at all times. We want to assure them that one day this level of impunity will be history, we urge them to stand bold and demand for justice for their candidate and stand together in defiance of what has befallen them.
We are not just folding our hands watching what was meant to be our sure victory being taken away by NRM that is now terrified to compete in a fair contest, aided by their partisan Electoral Commission. We have proceeded to courts of law to seek justice and urge the judiciary to exercise prudence in this very important matter that affects the lives of many.
We are not intimidated by these maneuvers and we are determined to fight back. It is this kind of unfair treatment which gives us more reason to fight on until our country is liberated.
Despite what has happened in Pallisa, I request all our members in other electoral areas to stay focused and even more energized than ever before during their campaigns. I am sure we will continue in our winning spree of more political positions and totally expose the electoral commission.
One Uganda, One People!
For God and My Country
Amuriat is FDC Party President