By Patrick Kagenda
Akena faces opposition from area UPC leaders
Hardly a fortnight after party President Olara Otunnu announced the UPC roadmap to 2016 that will see a new party president elected, jostling for position has intensified.
In Lango region, which is regarded as the cradle of UPC because its first party president; Milton Obote, hailed from there, his son Jimmy Akena is fighting for his political life. As part of his strategy, Akena who is the Lira Municipality MP, together with other MPs went on tour of the region which culminated with an announcement that he was the region’s chosen presidential candidate.
But the move appears not to have gone down well amongst other aspirants in the region and they have come out to oppose it.
In a heated weekly press briefing held at the party headquarters at Uganda House on April 15, former Lira Municipality MP Isa Otto Amiza, in the company of the Lira Municipality UPC chairman Dan Okello took swipes at Lira Municipality MP Jimmy Akena. They accused him of being behind the on-going infighting in the party that was once led by his father, the late former president of Uganda, Dr. Apollo Milton Obote.
Dan Okello said he had rushed to Kampala from Lira to refute the allegation that appeared in the media alleging that the region had endorsed Jimmy Akena for the party presidency office.
He said UPC leaders of Dokolo, Aleptong, Kole, Oyam, Otuke, including himself as Lira Municipality leader, had boycotted a tour by some MPs from the region that is said to have culminated in Jimmy Akena`s endorsement.
He listed three main reasons for the boycott of the MPs’ tour. According to him, the touring MPs included those who conspired and caused the court injunction that has paralysed all UPC party activity.
Secondly, according to him, the UPC MPs in the 9th parliament conspired not to pay the mandatory subscription to the party of Shs300,000 each MP per month to facilitate party work.
Thirdly, he said, the leaders in Lango noticed that the majority of the MPs of UPC were non-performers and all along have done nothing tangible for the party let alone the Lango region.
“How can an aspiring presidential candidate have spoken only seven times in the entire five years he has spent in parliament?” Okello said.
The UPC leaders said they had realised that there were some moles within the UPC MPs and therefore refused to associate themselves with the group on tour which is also opposed to the current UPC leadership of Olara Otunnu.
“These are the reasons why we boycotted the MPs’ tour of Lango sub-region,” Okello said, “so where could Akena have got the endorsement from?”
Former Lira Municipality MP Isa Otto Amiza, who is also a member of the UPC Delegates Conference for Lira Municipality said he wished to make it categorically clear that the leaders of UPC in Lango did not in any way endorse the candidature of candidate Jimmy Akena as a sole candidate or as a candidate for the people of Lango.
“The reasons the Lango UPC leaders quoted regarding the meeting called by MPs of UPC who toured Lango recently was that the MPs’ had no mandate constitutionally to sermon UPC district meetings,” he said, “The constitution of UPC 2008 article 15(II) and (IV) says, UPC district meetings and conferences are called or summoned by the district chairpersons. In that case they had no mandate as MPs to summon UPC conferences or meetings in the district.”
He said the MPs who collectively were led by Akora Maxwell Ebong, the brother of Jimmy Akena claimed that Akora was the chairman UPC parliamentary group which was not true.
“The constitution of UPC says a chairperson of the parliamentary group or a whip of parliament of UPC is appointed by the party president or it can be the president himself or a senior member of the party who is appointed to that position or a member of the cabinet.
“In this context MP Jacinta Ogwal is the appointed UPC parliamentary group chairperson and therefore Akora Maxwell who led the team had no mandate to do so,” Otto said.
Otto said Akena, as son of the UPC founding father, should never in anyway take the party to be a personal or a family inheritance project.
“UPC is a party of ideology, of the people and a party of a very clear distinctive record of unity in diversity.
“I want to make this very clear that nobody should dare to use the name of the people of Lango for personal greed and interest,” he added.
Party spokesperson Okello Lucima while commenting on the statements of the two party leaders said Jimmy Akena is free to be a candidate for party presidency office and he has his supporters within the party throughout the country. He said,however, their endorsement of him does not represent the views of the UPC leaders in the Lango sub-region who are within the UPC structures as has been stated by the two leaders. Besides the party founding president hailing from the region, Lango has maintained its dominance in the UPC politics and is looked at as the determinant of what goes on within the party. It is, therefore central to resolving the infighting that has left the party torn apart.