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Otunnu group heading to court over Akena swearing-in

By Patrick Kagenda

He is bending UPC constitution, says party outgoing VP, Bossa

Jimmy Akena, the self-declared UPC party president could be facing court action if the outgoing party vice president, Joseph Bossa, goes ahead with plans he announced recently.

Bossa spoke to The Independent after Akena on July 1 was sworn-in as party president in a hastily arranged meeting held in Kampala.

“What Akena did on July 1, when he called a Delegates Consultative Meeting to discuss the way forward for the party which meeting went out of its way and swore him in as the new party president is tantamount to a coup,” Bossa told The Independent.

“As the UPC administration, we are exploring taking him to court for breach of the party constitution,” Bossa added.

Efforts to get a comment about the threat of legal suit from outgoing UPC party president Olara Otunnu failed as he was not answering his telephone.

But the Buganda mobiliser and UPC stalwart Night Kulabako said the group that had Otunnu enthroned are the real delegates of the party who vote the president.

“Who is Otunnu to decide for us?” she said, “Let him go to court, we will also defeat him there.”  Kulabako said Otunnu had failed the party. “In the last five years he has been party president, he never called a national council or a delegate’s conference,” she said, “ If he wanted to retain the party presidency why did he say he wasn’t coming back than what he is trying to do to delay the swearing in of the young man.”

Akena has had sour relations with the outgoing UPC administration led by Otunnu.

But Akena’s self-coronation comes as questions intensify over his alleged win of party primaries for the nomination of the party president held on May 30.

Although Akena is said to have won majority votes of delegates from 67 districts out of the 112 national districts in Uganda, thereby emerging de facto winner pending endorsement by the party supreme organs, his opponents are challenging the win.

They claim Akena arm-twisted the party electoral commission to declare him as the dully elected party president.

It is believed Akena on July 1 enthroned himself possibly to throw off any attempt to deny him leadership of the party founded by his father, the late former president of Uganda, Milton Obote, and once led by his mother – Miria Obote.

But the outgoing leaders were unimpressed. Joseph Bossa, who is the outgoing party vice president and is also vying for the presidency, told The Independent Akena should not jump the gun.

“If he knows he is a darling of all why can’t he wait for the party to convene the delegate’s conference?”

He said Akena’s acts and utterances smack of impunity.   “It seems he has a strong backer advising him to use underhand methods to take power at party headquarters. Even the people he brought as delegates were hired mercenaries. We are also planning to call a delegates conference to resolve this matter.”

Meanwhile Akena’s supporters, including Hajji Kazimbiraine, the chairman of UPC in Masindi district, disagree with Bossa and Otunnu and accuse the outgoing administration of being sore losers.

“They are the ones who organised the election and we won it. Just because we defeated them, they are now creating every excuse to find ways of nullifying Akena`s win. We will not allow that,” Kazimbiraine told The Independent on July 01 as Akena was being sworn-in.  “That is why we are swearing in Akena as the party president today because we are the people who constitute the delegates conference,” he said.

Addressing the delegates at a function held at the UMA show grounds main hall in Nakawa, Akena`s strategy was to try to find a way forward for the party.

“There were people who were saying there were no elections while others said the election was not a UPC exercise but one done for and on behalf of the NRM,” he said, “My own position is that I am not going to accept any tampering with the decision and the vote of the labours of UPC. There is an argument that is developing that although Jimmy Akena won the district conferences he is not yet president and he has no right to be called president elect; that I should wait to come before the delegate’s conference yet those people do not want to call the delegates conference and have postponed it indefinitely.”

He adds: “In the electoral process, the electoral commission, the regional election coordinators and the returning officers, were all appointed by Olara Otunnu, even the register was being organised by the staff of his administration some of whom are here and we are working well with them.”

Akena, in answer to people who say he is not president-elect, quoted several sections of what he said was the UPC party constitution. He said the constitution mandates party members to defend the independence and sovereignty of the republic of Uganda and maintain peace, tranquility, and defense and preserve the constitution of Uganda.

“In the national constitution article 1 says all power belongs to the people who shall exercise their sovereignty in accordance within the constitution. Therefore all power within UPC belongs to the members of UPC and the members of UPC can exercise that power in accordance within their own constitution,” Akena said.

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