Worried about losing to the National Unity Platform (NUP) at next Monday’s lower local government elections, dozens of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) have camped outside State House, Entebbe to demand for facilitation for their campaigns.
Ugandans return to the polls again on January 25 to vote for Municipality mayors and councillors.
But given NUP’s dominance of elections especially in the central and parts of eastern Uganda, NRM candidates from various parts of the country notably, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Jinja and Mbale spent most of their time on Friday outside the State House’s main entrance demanding to meet President Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Museveni who is also the NRM chairman.
Museveni who returned to Kampala late on Thursday evening, arrived in Entebbe on Friday afternoon and probably mistook the protesting NRM candidates for party enthusiasts who had come to celebrate his 6th term re-election victory that he waved at the crowd and proceeded to State House.
Angered, the candidates threatened to get rowdy but were restrained by the Special Forces Command (SFC) manning the presidential residence who later asked them write down their grievances.
They stated that they had come to Museveni to demand for their campaign facilitation money which the party promised to give to its flag bearers at the different levels.
They are demanding for amounts ranging from Shs 500,000 to Shs 3 million which they need to be paid to before the January 25 elections.
The facilitation is hoped to help them pay polling agents and also conduct last minute campaigns, more so now that they face very stiff competition from the NUP.
What remains unclear is the source of the Mbarara and Kiruhura candidates’ fear for NUP since results from the presidential, parliamentary and LC-V elections don’t show a strong presence of the NUP in the Ankole sub-region.
As he exited State House later in the evening, Museveni briefly addressed the candidates and asked them to be patient, promising to ensure the NRM secretariat expeditiously handles their concerns.
Some of the candidates however expressed reservations about their facilitation being channelled through the secretariat.
“Some of us have been allocated Shs 3 million but we know that we shall receive probably Shs 1.5 million because of dealers at the secretariat,” they said.
Many of the candidates turned aggressive when they learnt that the media was also present.
“We don’t want media, this is a private issue between us and the party chairman,” an angry NRM enthusiast told a journalist.
Emmanuel Dombo, the director for information and publicity at the NRM secretariat blamed the politicians for rushing to camp at State House without first seeking audience with the secretary general, Justine Kasule Lumumba.
“But even this money is supposed to be sent to them a day to the elections because it is meant for payment of polling agents, as some may divert this money if they receive it much earlier, ” Dombo said.
The facilitation is part of the more than Shs 31.2 billion the NRM budgeted to spend on its candidates’ campaigns and other logistics such as transport, airtime, water for campaign agents and money to print posters.
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