Who is Patrick Oboi Amuriat (POA), the new FDC president?

On Friday evening, a new name was registered at the apex of opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party leadership, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, popularly POA.

Amuriat defeated Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, the incumbent in a hotly contested FDC presidential race at Namboole stadium.

Amuriat garnered 641 votes against Muntu’s 463, a difference of 178 votes.

Muntu had been party president since November 2012 when he defeated Nandala Mafabi, the then leader of the opposition in parliament.

As the outcome of the election became clear, supporters of Amuriat, popularly known as POA, sang songs and jubilated while those of Muntu appeared downcast.

“That is democracy,” said Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the Kira Municipality MP who headed Muntu’s campaign.

As he sat in the middle of the Namboole pitch, Ssemujju appeared crestfallen.

Amuriat’s win is a shocker given that not many people had given him any chance when he first announced his intention to run for the presidency.

Muntu declined to immediately talk to reporters, saying he would give his take on the elections later.

Amuriat’s win means that the defiant wing of the party commanded by Dr Kizza Besigye, the former FDC leader, has triumphed over the moderates.

Speaking earlier to the delegates, Amuriat said his presidency will concentrate on building structures that will further the defiance campaign.

He said his first act as president will be to reclaim Dr Kizza Besigye’s victory, allegedly stolen after the 2016 elections.

“I plead to FDC to vote for a leader who acts. Vote POA for leadership with Action.”

He said: “Some people think that we must massage the dictator. The dictator needs to be pushed. I want you to prepare for this struggles.”

But who is Amuriat aka POA?

Amuriat was born in Soroti to John Amuriat and Elizabeth Aciro of Kumi and Omoro District respectively.

POA did his Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) from Soroti Senior Secondary School between 1980 to 1984, he then went to Lango college school where he did his Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) from 1985-1986.

POA later would join Makerere University where he graduated with a diploma in education.

He joined teaching profession for two years before heading back to Makerere for a degree in Construction Engineering before upgrading to a masters.

Amuriat started out as a career man, having a short in public service working with Kumi district for one year as district engineer, he was also technical advisor for care international.

He then crossed into politics.

Amuriat was elected Member of Parliament for Kumi district, a post he held from 2001 to 2016. He was part of the Parliamentary Advocacy Forum, PAFO chaired by one of our most respected elders Hon. Augustine Ruzindana.

It is during this time that he became part of the historic events that gave birth to what immediately became the most popular party, the Forum Democratic Change (FDC).

POA was also chairman of the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises (COSASE). During his time as chairman of Cosase, Kumi MP Patrick Amuriat Oboi engaged researchers from Makerere University to do a study on the performance of the statutory bodies.

According to their May 2014 report, the study found that the appointment of politicians on management boards had eroded the technical ability of the corporations.

The report found that because some political appointees are not gainfully employed, they make endless demands for facilitation.

Clashing with the law

Amuritat’s political journey to the Presidency of FDC has been one via a series of police cells. From the day he offered himself for the position, he has been so popular with the police, who have had him for all their meals.

On July 21, 2017, Amuriat led a group of youth as they marched out of a police bus which had caught fire on its way from Nalufenya detention centre.

Amuriat and group had been arrested during a consultation process in Kyadondo East, they were arrested at Kasangati police station shortly before being transferred to Nalufenya.

A commanding Amuriat was seen leading the youth in songs of defiance as they attempted to find their way on foot from Mabira forest to Kampala before police sent them another bus.

Amuriat in October got himself, Besigye and Ingrid Turinawe arrested after they clashed with Police in Rukungiri where they were to hold a rally.

The clash between the trio and the police led to the death of two people and several injuries including loss of an eye by a police officer.

The trio were then arrested as they headed to Kabale district for another rally and detained at Naggalama before they were again whisked away and taken back to Rukungiri and arraigned in court.

On November 6, Police in Mbale arrested Amuriat on allegations of holding an illegal assembly and inciting violence.

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