Will Mao contest for MP in 2026?

2026 Election Watch -->
Will Mao contest for MP in 2026?
Norbert Mao entered an agreement with President Museveni's government

Mao, a former MP for Gulu Municipality and district chairperson, is being sounded in hush tones as the next Speaker of Parliament

There is a growing belief in Gulu City that Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Norbert Mao will contest for the Laroo-Pece constituency in 2026.

This belief has been made stronger after Mao registered as a Democratic Party (DP) member who will vote at Holy Rosary in Gulu East.

The incumbent, Fr Charles Onen, was on October 1, 2020, granted a five-year leave by Gulu Catholic Archdiocese in order to participate in active politics and should the church decline to extend his leave and Mao announces his desire, it could be smooth sailing for the son of the Acholi.

Political focus in Gulu City suddenly changing from Gulu West to Gulu East constituency.

Simon Opoka, DP vice chairperson, says the priest had initially been expected to run under Mao's party ticket until the very last minute when he decided to contest for the 2021 elections as an independent candidate.

"I was the DP flag bearer, after a fallout with Fr Onen, we thought [he] would reconcile but hepresented himself as an independent," says Opoka.

After Fr Onen disappointed DP, Opoka was drafted in to fill the void in the 2021 elections.

Fast forward to June 2, and the DP party president has registered and will vote from Holy Rosary in the Gulu East constituency.

This has raised speculation that Mao is finally returning to take up a political position in Gulu City.

The Nile Post spoke to Geoffrey Otim, DP chairperson in Gulu City and he puts it clear that those are merely rumors he has also heard of.

"That rumor started a long time ago so people fear that if he comes it might cause some other problems or whatever," Otim said0.

"But I must make it clear that as the chair of the party in Gulu city, I have not received an official briefing from him."

"There has been a resounding voice and call for the party president to reclaim a position within the city," said Justin Obol Simpleman, a member of the DP national executive committee.

Fr Onen said he still has to engage the new archbishop on whether to continue, adding that if given the green light, he will  be on the ballot.

Mao was previously a member of Parliament for Gulu Municipality, and later the district chairperson.

He played a vital role in negotiating for the return of peace with Lord's Resistance Army rebels of warlord Joseph Kony during the Juba Peace Talks.

"Mao is a presidential material and not a constituency material and I don't think that the good wishes of the people will convince him to come back to constituency politics," says Fr Onen.

Mao is seen as a potential Speaker of Parliament and acquiring an MP seat is the only way he has to succeed in the footsteps of his late friend Jacob Oulanyah.

However, Fr Onen is hopeful of putting up a good battle should the church allow him to contest in 2026.

He said he was confident that the people of Gulu East have trust in him for overseeing the construction of bridges and a modern dormitory at Holy Rosary Primary School.

The Laroo-Pece constituency is the business heartbeat of Gulu as it houses the Gulu main market, Gulu University, Bus park and Pece war memorial stadium.

However, political scholar Arthur Owor says Mao's return to local politics would lead to the death of some political careers.

"The return of Mao is one that people are watching because it is no longer Mao who was a backbencher, rather a front bencher," Owor said.

"However, if he returns will he be able to dispense and be able to be as vibrant as he used to be on the issues affecting the Acholi people."

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