Rebecca Alitwaala Kadaga has turned down an offer to become Uganda’s next vice president as a compromise for her to bow out of the speakership race.
Kadaga wants a third term as Speaker of Parliament against growing voices within the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) that she should leave the stage for her deputy, Jacob Oulanyah to lead Parliament.
Kadaga is understood to have discussed the issue with President Yoweri Museveni but she flatly rejected it and declared that she will not accept the Vice President’s job as a compromise to give up her bid for speaker.
From the meeting, Kadaga reportedly told her confidants that that would only happen over her dead body.
“She says that if Museveni likes Oulanyah so much, let him [Museveni] appoint Oulanyah as the vice president. For her, she wants nothing else other than the Speaker of Parliament,” an MP close to Kadaga’s campaign said.
On Sunday, Kadaga spoke openly about the offer during a meeting with newly elected MPs from Busoga sub-region at hotel Africana in Kampala but added that this is a position she will never accept since a vice president has no decision making roles.
The Kamuli Woman MP’s reluctance to take up the offer is likely to complicate matters for Museveni given the growing rifts within the party.
While the Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, is openly campaigning against Kadaga, the NRM secretary-general, Justine Kasule Lumumba and deputy Prime Minister, Gen. Moses Ali are vouching for the ruling party’s second vice national chairman.
The first national vice chairman, Al-Hajji Moses Kigongo who is also the chairperson of the party’s disciplinary committee recently forced Nankabirwa to scale down on her anti-Kadaga campaign that she was driving based on claims that the NRM central executive committee (CEC) resolved in 2016 that Kadaga was to head Parliament for only two terms.
Museveni will next month meet the newly elected NRM MPs at the National Leadership Institute (NALI) Kyankwanzi to discuss the matter ahead of the CEC meeting that will decide the NRM candidate for Speaker.
But Kadaga has already indicated that she may not honour the CEC decision if it is against her desire to remain speaker.
During the Sunday meeting, Busoga MPs led by Peter Mugema aka Panadol (Iganga Municipality) and Stephen Kisa (Luuka South) said that Busoga is not interested in any other post in cabinet other than that of Speaker of Parliament.
Kadaga also debunked an argument being peddled by her opponents who claim that the Busoga region does not deserve to be handed a prominent position in government because Busoga did not vote Museveni overwhelmingly.
Presenting statistics to back her argument she said that the Northern region has never voted overwhelmingly for the NRM except for the just concluded election, but added that they have always been represented in government.
Out of the 11 districts in Busoga, Museveni won in only Namayingo as the others voted for Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu of the National Unity Platform (NUP).