Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda over the weekend met a number of NRM leaders in Isingiro, Rwampara and Ntungamo districts to reconcile them following disputes that characterised the primary elections in the just concluded polls.
Rugunda who traveled to the three districts from 23rd to 25 October 2020, at the decision of the NRM Central Executive Committee, met flag bearers, losers and those who have chosen to contest as independents and urged them to bury the hatchet and keep the party united to avoid losing votes in the 2021 elections.
“A divided house cannot stand,” Rugunda said.
“We are aware that the recently concluded primary elections had some challenges, and because of that, the NRM Central Executive Committee under our Chairman, President Yoweri Museveni set up a tribunal to look into petitions. In addition, after the decision of the tribunal, a decision was taken to send different CEC members to meet all the parties to help heal the wounds,” he said.
The NRM primary elections in Isingiro, Rwampara and Ntungamo districts, especially for Members of Parliament were marred by allegations of vote rigging, bribery, intimidation and violence with a number of candidates who lost rejecting the results and deciding to contest as independents.
“The ideal party position is that we should support flag bearers, which we do, but in a situation where there remains disagreements, we ask that we should remain remain focused on what unites, especially on ensuring the vote of President Museveni remains intact,” he said.
Many of the speakers complained about the absence of a credible voters register that led President Museveni to direct that anybody was free to vote.
” That directive hurt us a lot, because even known opposition members were ferried to vote in our primary elections. The outcome was not credible,” a loser in Isingiro claimed.
In Ntungamo, several people complained that there are emerging segregation of some NRM members and candidates, describing them as lukewarm supports, while others call themselves solid.
“What we are seeing in NRM today is not different from what we saw in the last days of UPC, where we had UPC enkomba (strong) and UPC omufunguro (dilute). This divided and weakened the party leading to its demise,” a former candidate said.
“We have abaana (children) and ebyaana (bastards) in our party,” Bata Kamatenesi, the Woman flag bearer for Ntungamo claimed, saying she given a cold shoulder during the entire campaign period.
In Rwampara, there claims that the polling officials were compromised by candidates, altering Declaration Forms and falsifying results. There were also reports that politics of secretariansim based on religion and tribes had infiltrated the elections and called in the NRM leadership to arrest the situation before it is too late.
Prime Minister Rugunda warned against using religion and tribe as a tool to mobilize support, saying that fighting sectarianism was one of the reasons President Museveni led a guerrilla war to liberate the country from such vice.
It was agreed that reconciliation efforts should be an ongoing component of the NRM, and not only come when problems have manifested.