EALA POLLS: Lawyer Rwandarugali impresses Museveni

Lawyer Phiona Rwandarugali impressed NRM National Chairman and President of Uganda Gen Yoweri Museveni (PHOTO /Courtesy)

KAMPALA — Counsel Phiona Rwandarugali, an independent candidate for the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA 2022-2027) has impressed President Museveni with her unique understanding of the region’s critical affairs and challenges.

The President who personally interviewed Counsel Rwandarugali during an NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting on weekend praised the youthful EALA aspirant for her unique abilities, attributes and ideas for the region.

A source who attended the Friday meeting at State House Entebbe told UG Standard that the President allowed Rwandarugali to address him for over 20 minutes using Swahili, a critical language that was adopted by cabinet last week.

The source added that President Museveni who later interpreted her lengthy Swahili chat with Rwandarugali to other CEC members asked the party to back her.

“This Swahili girl (Rwandarugali) has impressed me with her understanding of the region’s critical problems and the solutions she’s offering,” the President is said to have told CEC members—requesting them to back.

The President is also said to have told CEC that the NRM which has the majority Members of Parliament has powers on independents and that Rwandarugali needs to be considered.

A top CEC member said the President’s Swahili chat with counsel Rwandarugali who is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda and Kenya rotated around pushing for regional integration and policy compliance among EAC Member States.

Counsel Rwandarugali whose agenda is hinged on regional integration including the much sought-after Customs Union, the Common Market, and the Monetary Union, focusing on compliance among East African Community (EAC) the Member States regarding regional policies says that as Uganda’s representative in Arusha, Tanzania she would ensure that the country negotiates and ensures that the region federates politically and that member states also comply with regional policies.

An elated Museveni who was also impressed by Counsel Rwandarugali’s personal story and, qualifications and other abilities is said to have endorsed her to other CEC members and said he would personally follow up her candidature.

The other CEC members who are said to have backed lawyer Rwandarugali include the highly influential First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of East African Community Affairs Rt. Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.

The Former Speaker of Parliament is said to have praised her understanding of the region including her Swahili language proficiency.

The first deputy prime minister and minister for EAC Affairs last week told reporters that all leaders including ministers have been directed to attend Swahili lessons.

The decision according to Kadaga is intended to popularize the use of Kiswahili as an official language on top of English and that leaders must take lead.

According to article 50 of the East African Community treaty and clause 4 of the EALA Elections Act 2011, the national parliament is mandated to conduct local elections for EALA.

Parliament sets its own rules and regulations governing its elections although they must be guided by the treaty and EALA Elections Act.

At this level, independents like Counsel Rwandarugali, are allowed allocated a particular seat as long as they meet the requirements set by Parliament.

Principally, parliament is supposed to vote nine people through a secret ballot. Therefore, the top nine people (on the basis of votes garnered) are considered successful.

However, in electing the nine people, parliament must, as much as possible, ensure that these people reflect the political parties represented, shades of opinion, gender, and special interest groups.

Article 50 (1) of the East African Treaty encourages all parties and shades represented in parliament to sit and agree on how the nine slots shall be shared out.

Meanwhile, CEC also endorsed six incumbent EALA legislators for a second term.

The six MPs include Rose Akol Okello, James Kakooza, Mary Mugyenyi, Paul Musamali, Dennis Namara and George Stephen Odong.

The MPs have so far spent one term as members of the East African Legislative Assembly.

An MP in this house is only mandated to spend two terms.

In a communication released on Friday evening, the NRM Secretary General Richard Todwong indicated that the Party’s top organ received 130 names of interested people.

63 of these people withdrew from the race.

CEC “Hereby, recommends that the EALA members be maintained, in recognition of their exceptional performance, to continue their tenure for another term as members of the East African Legislative Assembly,” the Secretary General wrote.

The recommendation has now been forwarded to the NRM parliamentary caucus for approval before voting takes place.

Opposition parties too will have to refer names of endorsed candidates to Parliament and one independent candidate be elected to represent Uganda in the Arusha based Assembly.


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