A week after he wrote to leaders of opposition political parties about his bid for Speaker of Parliament, Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda is yet to receive any response which has left him guessing whether the opposition parties will back him.
The outgoing chief opposition whip announced last week at a press conference at Parliament that he would challenge the current Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, and Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah to the job, because he cannot allow the opposition in Parliament to be reduced to mere spectators as NRM bigwigs jostle for the position.
The opposition will have more than 100 MPs in the 11th Parliament – the highest number since the return of multiparty politics, which given Ssemujju a good starting point if all the opposition parties with MPs back his candidature.
With the exception of his party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), which wrote back inviting him for talks with the top leadership on Thursday (March 18) over his bid the others haven’t.
“When I wrote, I asked the political party leaders to accord me an opportunity at their earliest convenient time to go and talk to them. It is only the FDC that has called me, and I will be meeting them on Thursday. Hon. Asuman Basalirwa [Justice Forum] told me that they are going to write but I haven’t received their letter,” Ssemujju said on Wednesday.
FDC will have 32 MPs in the new parliament and of these; about 24 have reportedly assured Kadaga of their support. Among these is outgoing Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ocan, Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal and newcomer, Asinansi Nyakato (Hoima City).
Nyakato’s name appeared on a list of some 10 new female legislators who met Kadaga on Monday at her office to show their support.
On Tuesday, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, the leader of the National Unity Platform (NUP) – the next Parliament’s biggest opposition party, said that they hadn’t endorsed any candidate.
“That is diversionary; it is not worth our time. As we speak now, we are demanding for the release of the people that are being castrated, that are being tortured and raped while in detention; the people that are being murdered by the state. We cannot bring unnecessary talk now when we have so much to handle,” Kyagulanyi said.
NUP will have at least 57 MPs in the next Parliament, and the majority of them, like their FDC counterparts, have already shown support for Kadaga much as their party says it hasn’t endorsed anyone.
Justice Forum (JEEMA) president and the party’s only lawmaker, Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri Municipality) is part of Kadaga’s campaign team while six of the nine Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) MPs are with Oulanyah.
The UPC president Jimmy Akena (Lira West) last week joined his wife, Betty Amongi (Oyam South), and 12 other MPs under the Lango Parliamentary Group to declare his support for Oulanyah.
The DP spokesperson, Opio Okoler Lo Amanu said that Uganda’s oldest political party has not yet given attention to Ssemujju’s letter but hopes to do so before the end of the month during the national executive committee meeting.