ARUA – Former Transport State minister Simon Ejua is among seven candidates who are seeking to hold the ruling NRM party flag in the Arua Municipality MP by-election.
The other contestants are EALA member Nusura Tiperu, Mr Muhamad Aluma, Mr John Lematia, former Maracha legislator Jackson Atima, NRM youth leader Godfrey Abiga and Khalfan Mubaraka.
The contestants were nominated at the NRM party offices in Kampala on Friday.
Ejua was the state minister for transport from 1 June 2006 until 27 May 2011. In May 2011, he was dropped from the cabinet and was replaced by Stephen Chebrot. Ejua also served as the Member of Parliament for Vurra County, Arua District, from 2006 until 2011. In the 2011 national elections, he lost his parliamentary seat to Sam Agatre Okuonzi, an independent, who is the incumbent MP for the constituency.
On Friday, NRM EC chairman Tanga Odoi said the party believes all the contestants have the potential to carry the party flag in order to retain the seat following the assassination of Col (Rtd) Ibrahim Abiriga.
“All the candidates are very competent. We have a strong team of candidates which if we rally them before the opposition, we shall surely beat them,” Mr Tanga said.
He said each of the contestants paid at least Shs2m for nominations which will be used to organise for the campaigns.
“This money helps to facilitate operations in the electoral commission for the work that happens. It is a mandate for any person who wants to stand as MP,” he said.
The winner of the NRM primaries will face off with Mr Musema Bruce, who was chosen by the Opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party as the party flag bearer in the August 15 by-election.
Mr Paul Mwiru, the FDC deputy spokesperson, said Musema, who contested against Col Abiriga in the 2016 election, is the right candidate for the job.
“We know this is our seat and we do not want to take any chances. We can’t have any other candidate for the place. We now confirm that our candidate as FDC will be Mr Musema, any FDC who is interested in the same position as they have been posting on social media should just forget,” Mr Mwiru said during the weekly press conference at the party’s headquarters at Najjanankumbi on Monday.
In the 2016 election, Col Abiriga defeated Mr Musema by only 1,246 votes. Following defeat, Mr Musema went to court, accusing the Electoral Commission (EC) of conniving with Abiriga to make parallel declaration forms that bore neither the codes nor serial numbers.
However, last week FDC leaders in Arua District rejected the party’s choice of a flag bearer to contest for the Arua Municipality MP seat and demanded to hold primaries.
In a heated meeting held in Arua Town on Tuesday, some members were in support of the party’s choice of Bruce Musema to hold the party flag in the August 15 by-election but others rejected this, insisting the party constitution must be followed. Obongi County MP Hassan Kaps Fungaroo urged the different members who are contesting the party’s choice of Musema to hold more discussions until they reach a consensus.