NRM Wins Lango Region

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Lango Region

Slowly the National Resistance Movement (NRM) seems to have won new sympathisers in Lango, a sub-region once dominated by the Uganda Peoples Congress and very much still an opposition hunting ground. Lango has been an opposition stronghold for the last two decades since Mr Yoweri Museveni took over from military junta of Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa. People hated Museveni and nobody would want to be identified with his party. In all the elections that took place since Museveni came to power, the opposition has been winning in Lango.

Previously made up of just Lira and Apac districts, Lango has today been balkansied in Lira, Apac, Kole, Amolatar, Dokolo, Otuke, Oyam and Alebtong districts. How will the voting pattern be this time? In 1996, Museveni got 17% against Paul Ssemogerere’s 76%. In 2001, the number of Museveni’s votes rose to 20%, compared to Dr Kizza Besigye’s 76%. And in 2006, Museveni underwent a serious setback with a measly 8% against his main challenger, Besigye’s 70%. All along, the people of Lango would rally behind the person they felt was strong enough to unseat Museveni.

This explains why they never voted for UPC presidential candidates Aggrey Awori in 2001 and Miria Obote in 2006. Water under the bridge Since then a lot of water has gone under the bridge. Many opposition politicians in Lango have defected to NRM and the Forum for Democratic Change. You can also hear there are Democratic Party, and Uganda Federal Alliance voices. The UPC commanded mass support in Lango where its founder former president, Dr Apollo Milton Obote, comes from.

It would therefore always be political suicide for one to contest under another party, especially NRM. Museveni has not been popular in Lango because he waged a guerilla war against the UPC government, did not do enough to stop armed Karimojong cattle rustlers, forcing scores of prominent Langi out of jobs (e.g. D.L. Ongom from UNEB), segregation, unemployment, poverty, diseases, bad roads, education for their children and welfare among others. One will also remember that when the NRA took over power, thousands of former Langi and Acholi soldiers of UNLA were arrested and taken to Luzira Prison where they were kept in overcrowded cells as ‘lodgers’ where many lost their lives. Many of those who were lucky to come out alive died shortly after release of mysterious illnesses. Another group of UNLA soldiers were taken to so call political schools in Kiburara and Nabisojjo where hundreds died a suspicious death.

Though the issue of cattle rustling had been there for long time before Museveni came to power, it was never heard of for the ‘Karimojong’ cattle rustlers to strike as deep as Akokoro in Apac leave alone Lira town. People believe it was Museveni’s tactics to make the Langi poor by stripping them of their vast cattle wealth. These are some of the reasons like former Lira Municipality MP Cecilia Atim Ogwal has prevailed in the politics of Lango. Today, she occupies the Dokolo Woman seat. Her ouster from Lira Municipality was expected during her second term but the entre of Dr Obote’s son, Jimmy Akena alias James Michael Akena into the race hastened her departure.

The co-conspirators against her went as far to lock out her strong supporters during the UPC primaries ahead of the 2006 election. UPC Lira District vhairman Nasuru Ogwang has since apologised over the matter. But that apology came a little too late for other party stalwarts like Ogwal, Rebecca Otengo, Ojur Franco, Angiro Gutomoi, Ojok B’leo, Ben Wacha, to mention a few, who decided to contest as independents. Another stalwart, Daniel Omara Atubo, was so incensed that he not only de-camped but also accepted the position of minster of lands in the government of which he had been one of the most rabid critics. And that is how the otherwise solid UPC developed cracks here. Political suicide Supporting NRM before this development was political suicide. No one would dare mention the name of Museveni during his/her campaign, not even NRM flag bearers like Dokolo MP Okot Ogong and the long-suffering Sam Engola, who repeatedly lost to Ms Ogwal. Things were so bad that there was even no primary election for NRM in Lango. For a long time, the Langi viewed Museveni as a person who had a personal thing against them.

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