Four Presidential Candidates Lock Horns over Northern Uganda Votes

1572 Views Gulu, Uganda
Presidential candidates have intensified their search for votes in parts of northern Uganda, with each seeking to have the largest share of the region known to posses the biggest support for the opposition. The battle for votes among the presidential candidates appears to have been reduced to only among four candidates: Museveni, Mao, Besigye and Otunu with the rest of the four candidates comprising Betty Kamya, Bidandi Ssali, Abed Bwanika and Lubega hardly heard of. On Sunday, Norbert Mao, the DP president became the latest presidential candidate to campaign in areas of Acholi sub region. At Kaunda ground in Gulu town, Mao attracted about 10,000 people, a record crowd that has ever turned up for a campaign rally for any candidate in the district. He took the opportunity to dismiss claims that the incumbent, Yoweri Museveni was gaining ground in the region. Mao told the crowd that most people in northern Uganda were quickly forgetting the sufferings they ensured in the displaced people's camps, a fact he attributed to Museveni. He said people like him were labeled rebels for merely suggesting that government abandons the military strategy for peaceful negotiations adding that he deserves more credit for the current peace more than should be attributed to Museveni. It is no secret, that president Museveni is hoping to gain more support in the northern region, on the premise of resettlement of former displaced persons as well as the return of peace in a region that never knew the absence of gunfire and peace for over two decades. Aware of the strength the peaceful situation in the region could benefit him, Museveni's campaign team have developed several campaign adverts that are playing on the local radio stations, asking the population to vote him back to power. Apart from the media campaigns, Museveni has beefed up his task force, that is moving to every village to distribute money to the voters. As Oling James Bond, a resident of Lajok Olwiyo sub ward ascertains, the strategy seems to be yielding fruits. //Cue in: "We people of Nwoya..." Cue out: "...have benefited a lot."// But the other candidates are not willing to let the incumbent go unchallenged. Olara Otunu, the UPC party president has been using his rallies in the north to remind people of the sufferings they went through, adding that he has documentation and witnessed to pin Museveni for genocide. Olara says that the people should vote to free themselves from the dictatorship of president Museveni. /Cue in: "The people of can choose..." Cue out: "...set our people free."// It is however unclera whether Kizza Besigye, the FDC president and candidate for the Inter Party cooperation still commands the support he has garnered over the past two elections. The northern region overwhelmingly voted Besigye in the past two general elections allowing FDC party to secure more votes than President Yoweri Musveni did. In 2006, Kizza Besigye beat incumbent Yoweri Museveni in northern Uganda by collecting 63 percent of the votes compared to Museveni's 29 percent. Other candidates, Miria Obote of UPC got 3 percent, Ssebaana Kizito of DP garnered 2.4 percent while Abed Bwanika, an Independent candidate got 2.2 percent of the votes cast. Reagan Okumu, the FDC national chairman for campaigns is confident that Besigye's support in the region could supercede the previous records. //Cue in: "In the broader north..." Cue out: "...capacity to campaign."// To re-affirm his point, today, Okumu displayed before the press, a total of 59 yellow t/shirts and 1,129 NRM party cards that were allegedly handed over by people who defected to join the FDC party in Aswa County. Okumu said he was confident that the NRM party only has a few household supporters. But his claims were quickly dismissed by the ruling party officials. Douglas Okao, the NRM party administrator in Gulu district said their support base was growing and that they expect to get a gain in votes. //Cue in: "To me the defections..." Cue out: "...sympathy votes from the community."// With just a day left to the polls, most people in northern Uganda are convinced that only the ballots, would settle the score among the candidates to decide who will influence the trend of political support in the renowned opposition stronghold.