NRM Leaders Torn Between Two Contenders in the Serere County By-election

A section of the National Resistance Movement- NRM structures have declined to support Phillip Oucor, the party’s flag bearer in the Serere County parliamentary by-election.

Phillip Oucor was the NRM party’s choice in the 2021 parliamentary race. However, with a vote margin of 5,195, he lost the race to Bishop Patrick Okabe who had been ejected by the party primaries. Okabe died last month in a motor accident.

As the Electoral Commission starts preparations for a by-election to fill the now-vacant position, NRM leaders in Serere are torn between Oucor and Emmanuel Omoding, a son of the late Patrick Okabe. Having been elected the Party candidate in the constituency earlier, Oucor says that his position is premised in the constitutional provisions of the party.

Section 41 of the NRM Constitution states that the term of office for every elected member is five years. “Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the term of office of elected members of all organs of NRM shall be five years unless terminated earlier.

But reports indicate that the NRM party emergency structure meeting convened by the NRM Electoral Commission Chairperson Dr Tanga Odoi on Monday declined to rally behind Oucor. Charles Erimu, the NRM Chairperson in Atiira sub-county says that the meeting ended prematurely with the call by Dr Tanga for patience to allow the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) to discuss the matter today.

Stephen Otage, the NRM Chairperson in Kateta Sub County and coordinator of NRM party leaders in Serere county says that much as they are cognizant of the legal provisions in the NRM Constitution, the situation in Serere County requires mutual understanding.

According to the NRM Constitution, termination of an elected or appointed person will be considered if the said person ceased to be a member of NRM, in case of abuse of office, a conviction for an offence carrying a sentence of more than nine months, misconduct or misbehaviour, mismanagement, incompetence and physical or mental incapacity.

Dr Tanga Odoi, the EC Electoral Commission Chairperson told URN  that the issue may be subjected to dialogue if the need arises but added that the outcome shall not violate the constitution.

During the Soroti East by-election in July 2022, the NRM gave its flag to Herbert Edmund Ariko instead of Jimmy Ekemu who is said to have resigned from hoisting the flag, according to Dr Tanga Odoi. Ekemu had earlier indicated that he would be participating in the elections before the events changed.

In the 2021 general elections, Serere county attracted six candidates including three independents. They are Patrick Okabe- Independent who garnered 17, 826 votes, Phillip Oucor of NRM with 12, 631, Martin Onguruco- Independent with 10, 513, Emmanuel Eratu- Independent with 1, 035, Joshua Eyaru of FDC with 945 and Mukhalu Richard Okodel of NUP with 338 votes. 

Polls for the Serere County by-election have been scheduled for February 23, 2023.

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