Bobi Wine's NUP begins vetting candidates but process attracts controversy

2021 Elections Watch

Political experts have warned that the National Unity Platform’s (NUP) election primaries approach might crush the young party ahead of the 2021 polls. 

The approach comes as different candidates who wish to contest on the NUP party card in the 2021 polls begin to line up to claim slots. 

Unlike the other political parties in Uganda, NUP has decided not to hold party primaries. This had led to questions about the criteria the party will use to select flag bearers in the election. 

Gerald Kalyeija, a political observer, says  this unique and unusual closed primaries approach may spell doom for the party. 

He argues that this approach is typical of autocratic party behaviour where members choices are predetermined for them. 

Kalyeija says NUP is too young a party to display such tendencies. He says that, “Those left out in this selection process will feel that their opinions are inconsequential. How do you expect a sitting MP to accept that someone else selected is a better option?” 

He says the approach is going to foster an atmosphere of intrigue in NUP that will cause headache for the leadership. 

There have already been instances of disagreements about NUP candidate selection approach. 

The collective decision to have Samuel Lubega Mukaaku as official flag bearer on the national unity platform card for the parliamentary seat was as a result of vetting process. 

Six contenders had initially expressed interest in the seat.  After various vetting processes they agreed to second Lubega for the seat. The decision was, however, not reached without some strongly voiced disagreements. 

But NUP spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi defends the party’s approach as necessitated by the hostility of security forces. 

Ssenyonyi says any attempt to hold open party functions also leads to police firing tear gas into the gatherings and arresting others. 

Nonetheless, Senyonyi says the party constitution provides for the election management committee on the national and constituency level to vet candidates. 

He says that NUP will go an extra mile to deploy teams on ground to ascertain the strength of a candidate especially in areas where the party has more than one strong candidate vying for the same seat. 

NUP expects to have concluded the vetting process for councillors and MPs in time to beat nominations deadline. 

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