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Oyam polls: Akena strains UPC, NRM party ties

Ssekanjako Deus



Yesterday, Mr. Akena and Tanga Odoi, the head of the NRM’s election commission, could be heard verbally exchanging words in a video that went viral on social media.

Cracks in the “political marriage” between the opposition Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) faction led by Lira Municipality MP Jimmy Akena and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party have been revealed by yesterday’s tumultuous Oyam North by-election.

It had been anticipated that Mr. Akena, the son of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote, the party’s co-founder and twice-elected president of Uganda, wouldn’t cause too much trouble for the incumbent party.


On the eve of election day, however, Mr. Fred Ebil Ebil, secretary general of the UPC, informed Kampala Media TV that a pact with the NRM was not confirmed by the fact that they did not front a presidential candidate in the 2016 general election.

“At the moment, UPC is a political party operating independently, and NRM is also operating independently. In a telephone interview, he stated, “We think we are ready for 2026 to fill in candidates for all offices, including the presidential candidate.

In 2015, President Museveni told journalists at Baralegi State Lodge, Otuke District, that he was happy to work with Akena as opposed to the faction led by Dr. Olara Otunnu. At the time, the Lango sub-region of northern Uganda was the last UPC stronghold nationwide.


Given the ideological differences, enmity, and shared disdain between his late father and President Museveni, the Akena faction really infuriated the UPC establishment a year later by consenting to cooperate with the NRM.

After Ms. Betty Amongi, the Oyam South MP and Mr. Akena’s wife, was named minister of Lands, Housing, and Urban Development, there was uproar.

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Ms. Amongi took the place of Mr. Daniel Omara Atubo, a notable former UPC who had earlier joined forces with the NRM to become minister of land. After he lost his Otuke seat in Parliament, Mr. Atubo was fired.


Ms. Amongi is currently minister of gender, labor, and social development despite never having formally joined NRM. Her husband also left many in the dark about his true motivations.

The Oyam North by-election has put relations in what some older UPC apparatchiks mocked as a personal marriage of convenience for the Akenas to the test.

In place of his deceased father, Col (rtd) Charles Okello Engola Macodwogo, the ruling party has endorsed Mr. Samuel Engola Okello Junior as its flag bearer. At his residence in Kyanja, Kampala, Col. Engola was shot and killed by his military security, Pte. Wilson Sabiiti, on May 2.


The ruling party typically anticipated Akena would support the NRM candidate. Instead, he set up camp here and has been vociferously advocating for Dr. Eunice Apio Otuko, the UPC flagbearer. She is a pretty well-liked candidate and seemed poised to win if this was a truly free and fair election.

Angered, several members of the ruling party questioned his participation, which prompted Mr. Akena to justify his attendance.

“I needed to make it very obvious to them that when I ran for office in 2006 [in Lira Municipality], Sam Engola, the north regional vice chairman for NRM, was a candidate. I ran against him while the president of Uganda, the chairman of NRM, supported his candidate. I’ve never had a problem, Mr. Akena stated.


“By endorsing a candidate from the grieving family, some members of the ruling party are attempting to present themselves as saints on this matter. I am here Oyam to raise support for the UPC candidate, he said.

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Mr. Akena also made a cryptic comment about his political goals, noting that “… 2026 is loading. We are now getting ready for the 2026 presidential elections.

Additionally, President Museveni visited Oyam North, where he addressed on Tuesday at Tegony Primary School in Iceme Town Council. The dead minister, according to him, joined NRM because he was sensible, campaigned for peace in Oyam, which had been subjected to the cruelty of the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict, and was enthusiastic about it.


Days after Col. Engola’s murder, President Museveni spoke of how the colonel’s role in driving out the rebels from Oyam and other parts of northern Uganda was crucial. As a result, the colonel earned the moniker Macodwogo, which roughly translates from Luo as “fire is back,” for his contribution to restoring peace and enabling locals to once more cook and light fires outside their homes.

In that regard, the President argued: “You’re lucky to get one of the kids who has been growing up close to him when it comes to this sad circumstance of having a replacement. For myself, I would choose that boy because I would rationally assume that perhaps he had learned from his father.

Here, there have been heated arguments and a good deal of drama between NRM backers and Akena’s UPC.


At a ruling party rally on Tuesday, Congressman and head of the Lango cultural institution Mr. George Opota made an appearance.

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He had changed allegiances.

35 alleged Engola Junior followers left the bandwagon and joined UPC four days ago.


The chairman of the NRM elections board, Dr. Tanga Odoi, informed journalists in Oyam Town on Sunday, July 2, that Ms. Amongi will shortly change her allegiance.

As he welcomed another former UPC member, Crispus Ayena Odongo to the NRM, Mr. Tanga Odoi said, “Time is up for all those pretending that they are in opposition, to join the NRM party.”

Anytime we are anticipating my aunt, Hon. Betty Amongi, minister of gender, labor, and social development, will actually abandon the red shade and join the lovely yellow color, he stated.


The fact that Ms Amongi did not attend either of the two rallies that the President spoke at—at Tegony Primary School and at Otwal Primary School in Otwal Sub-county—is telling.

There were four contenders in the Oyam North contest, including Daniel Okello of the National Unity Platform and Mr. Newton Freddy Okello of the Forum for Democratic Change.