By Andrew Irumba
Fort Portal: The recently concluded NRM Western Youth MP primary elections were among the hotly contested elections, which attracted a couple of contestants among them; Mbarara’s Patrick Mwesigye, Ntoroko’s Rugumayo Edson also a Secretary for external relations on the national youth council, Gweni Murungi Biraro, a daughter to the late. General Biraro, Fort Portal’s Tugume Ronald, who is a young budding lawyer, Edwin Muramuzi of Shema among others.
However, some observers concluded that the elections, just like many others, were characterized by violence, voter bribery, intimidation and irregularities.
One of the contestants, Ronald Tugume alleged that Edson Rugumayo’s victory with 199 votes were due to irregularities that marred the exercise, and thus has vowed to challenge him again in the general elections.
Tugume who came 2nd with 114 has since vowed to come back as an independent, saying the election was not free and fair, since it was marred with intimidation to his supporters geared by unruly old party members who disrupted the whole electoral process. One of the such ‘unruly’ old party members Ronald mentioned was Tourism minister Col.Tom Butime whom he accused of bribery, intimation of his agents, meddling in youth election exercise yet he wasn’t part of the age bracket among other allagations.
Read Tugume’s Full Statement Below;
“I would like to express heartfelt thanks to my campaign team, family, friends and most importantly my supporters (NRM YOUTH LEAGUE DELEGATES) for the incredible job they did without fear or favour while canvassing support from the entire Western Region.
I would also like to thank The NRM Electoral Commission for organizing a peaceful election. On behalf of my Campaign Taskforce Team and on my own behalf, I wish to congratulate the winner of the election and thank all participants especially those who exercised good discipline during campaigns and the election process.
However, as it is commonly said that where there are Angels, the Devil also makes his presence and so was on the final hours to the Election day (10th October 2020). My communication with my Coordinators and Agents was hampered by some bad characters who connived with telecommunications service operators and interfered with my communication.
My known communication numbers and those of my known Coordinators and Agents could neither make nor receive calls and text messages. My financial Accounts (Bank and mobile money) were deliberately partially blocked and I couldn’t access any monies to facilitate my agents and coordination of final Election processes.
While my communication and access to my Bank accounts were blocked, the masterminds behind this move took advantage to bribe my supporters in the districts where I visibly possessed dominance in an effort to influence their choice of candidature and supporters who came out to offer me financial assistance were either intimidated or coerced and withdrew it.
It is at this point that i continue to thank some of my supporters who not only rejected these bribes but also withstood the intimidation and lined behind the right candidate Tugume Ronald. I assure you that I cannot take your bravery and most importantly your confidence in me for granted.
On the voting day, there was a deliberate interference from Minister Tom Butime in the election process. He was sighted in many parts of greater Rwenzori sub-region distributing money to influence voters in favour of one candidate he had an interest in.
In Kyegegwa district, the Resident District Commissioner (RDC) was actively involved in intimidating my supporters and interfering with the election process. I condemn the actions of these two people in the strongest terms possible. I believe youths must be left to exercise their democracy freely and peacefully without any interference from old cadres.
From what transpired on the election day and the preceding day as witnessed by not only the youths but also much other democracy loving Ugandans in the western region, it was a clear indicator that I, Tugume Ronald was leading in all sub-regions. The shameful actions of a few characters in our NRM party cost the youths of their victory.
Having gathered enough information and evidence from all sub-regions, I want to assure my supporters that I am not going to let selfish characters steal your representation.
I am, therefore, declaring my intention to stand as an INDEPENDENT candidate to represent the youths of Western region in the parliament of Uganda 2021-2026 having put in place all technical measures to ensure that such unfortunate situations will not happen to our victory again. I urge you to remain strong, committed, united, confident and most importantly vigilant until our victory is reclaimed. Aluta Continua!!
ASPIRING YOUTH MP – WESTERN REGION”