Betty Nambooze Triumphs in Mukono North MP Elections

Comments 2200 Views Mukono, Uganda
Betty Nambooze Bakireke is the new Member of Parliament for Mukono North constituency. Nambooze, an outspoken and widely known member of the Democratic Party (DP), was yesterday night declared the winner of the Mukono North parliamentary by-election. The chairman of the Electoral Commission, Badru Kiggundu, announced that she won the election with 16,130 votes. Kiggundu said her rival, Rev. Peter Bakaluba Mukasa of the National Resistance Movement (NRM), got 14,313 votes. The by-election in Mukono North was called after the High Court declared Bakaluba Mukasa's election in 2006 null and void. The High Court found that there were voting irregularities and evidence of fraud in the 2006 polls, which were significant enough to alter the result in Bakaluba's favor. Nambooze's supporters spent much of last night celebrating her victory in the streets of Mukono town. They said her win was evidence that opposition politicians were gaining a hold on territories that were previously the domain of the ruling NRM. Betty Nambooze is a fierce critic of President Yoweri Museveni's government and has run afoul of the authorities on several occasions because of this. However, her constant clashes with government have endeared her to some sections of the public, who identify with her strong anti-government views. Nambooze is best known as a radio talk show panelist on the Buganda Kingdom-owned station, CBS FM. She is a professional journalist, who cut her teeth with several now-defunct Luganda publications. She has also been a life-long supporter of the DP. In 2003 she was arrested outside the CBS radio studios for allegedly receiving a bribe. Court found her guilty of the charge and she spent 11 months in jail for the crime. Nambooze maintained her innocence. She said she was the victim of a systematic government program to curtail the opposition. In 2007 Nambooze was arrested for organizing an rally to protest the mass eviction of Mukono residents from property allegedly owned by President Museveni's brother, Salim Saleh. In 2008 she was arrested again by government forces, who rounded up several members of the Buganda Kingdom government. Nambooze was moved from prison to prison in the deep of the night, eventually ending up in Bundibugyo police station for several days. She was initially charged with terrorism, but later the case was reduced to sedition. Nambooze claimed that during her arrest, she was poisoned. Last year the allegation of poisoning resurfaced when she fell violently ill and had to be rushed to South Africa for treatment. The politician's illness didn't stop government from going after her with another charge. She was accused of being central to the pro-Buganda riots in Kampala last September. On her return, she was questioned by the police and charged with inciting violence against government. Speaking late last night, Nambooze said her victory in the by-election was evidence that the people of Mukono North believed in her and would stand by her no matter how much harassment from government she endured.