INTERVIEW: I'm coming back to restore integrity of Parliament - Kassiano Wadri

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INTERVIEW: I'm coming back to restore integrity of Parliament - Kassiano Wadri
Kassiano Wadri

INTERVIEW | Seasoned politician Kassiano Wadri is not done with the murky game of political leadership. Wadri, who lost Arua Municipality seat to Jackson Atima in the 2021 polls, says he is coming back not just to reclaim his place in Parliament but to shape debate.

Mr Wadri lost the seat he had gained by blood in a by-election to replace Ibrahim Abiriga, who was gunned down in Kampala in 2018. In the controversial September 2018 by-election, he rode the wave of People Power movement led by Robert Kyagulanyi into a bloody fight for the constituency in which President Museveni accused the now NUP supporters of "stoning his motorcade".

Mr Kyagulanyi's driver Yasin Kawuma was shot dead at Hotel Pacific in Arua in the incident. Kyagulanyi and Wadri, alongside more than a dozen opposition members, were arrested and only released following international pressure. Wadri, formerly a staunch FDC member, changed allegiance to the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) in 2021 and lost the seat.

While in in the oil city of Hoima to galvanise support for ANT at the weekend, Nile Post caught up with Mr Wadri, who was purring with confidence about his chances in 2026.

Excerpts;-

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Are you going to stand in 2026?

But Nile Post, what an interesting question! When you look at me, Am I lying down? Right, you see I am standing, so no doubt in 2026, I'm going to stand, God willing.

What new thing are you bringing on board?

You see during my time in Parliament, Parliament was highly respected, but when you look at the situation in the house now, it's shaming. Parliament has lost track, it's image has extremely gone down, integrity level of debate is so poor, so at such a critical time, people like me are needed in the house.

You mean everyone in Parliament is not performing?

No, actually there are only four members of parliament who have values currently, I get touched when people like Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda, Muwanga Kivumbi, Theodore Ssekikubo and Barnabas Tinkasimire try to level the debate but they are always overpowered because they are few.

But these four stand out for, as for the rest they are just people who seem to go to church, listen to the word of God and go back home. It's disappointing for sure, and they need more voices of reason in Parliament who will hold government accountable all the time.

So, to you it's only the four members of parliament...

Yes, most of the parliamentary sessions are always live on TV, you have members who have never opened up their mouth and we are talking about two and half years. What are the roles of an MP? There are four key issues legislation, representation, appropriation then how do these quiet fellows represent their people and where. Many of them wait for caucus and they will never challenge anything, they just come and nod their heads then go - there is need to go beyond that.

How do you rate the level of debate in the house?

It's extremely low, and poor. I sometimes get amused when I see members raising matters of national importance and the issue is they have a water spring that is not functional, so when an MPs raises a water spring, what will the LC1, LC2, LC3 do? An MP is supposed to discuss national matters, you stand and discuss issues rather than these petty matters.

But also the challenge is that the [current] parliament is so huge so this affects level of debate.

Who should be voted as a member of parliament?

The person must be of moral character, high class in terms of debate, integrity unable to be compromised, educated.... but today we have a challenge of voting for people because they have given us money, then what do you expect? Knowledgeable people meant to be in Parliament do not have money to bribe, so then we will continue having such MPs whose focus is on personal wealth nothing else.

So what can you do as a person

I want to tell people who know me, know my capacity so when I get to Parliament, I'm going to focus on putting our parliament to order and restore it's image. But this requires empowering people to vote for the right persons, not with excitement - rather vote for capable leaders.

Do you have the capacity to do it?

Yes I do, let people of Arua vote for me. It's bad to vote for one because they belong to a particular party, let's vote for people because they have the capacity. I want to ask Parliament to get on the right track. Money exchanging hands like that is bad, now how will you check the Executive and the Judiciary when you are also corrupt?

How about the activities in parliament?

Look, Parliament has become a nuisance, you know for a fact in the recent days social media, print and electronic media has been awash with corruption scandals. Then if parliament is corrupt who is going to check other government institutions? This is very bad, so members of parliament are there for their personal wealth not serving the population and the purpose for why they are supposed to represent the people.

Without fear of contradiction, I want to state parliament is very corrupt, and this gets us to the saying now who guides the guard.

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