By Samuel Opio
Geoffrey Wandera, an independent candidate, was on Monday morning declared the new Busia LC5 chairman after two other candidates stepped down from the race, bringing to an end a dramatic race for the position that climaxed last Friday with the cancellation of two favorites from the race.
The announcement comes in just two days to the election date.
Wandera and two independents Chrispus Bwire and Tony Ojambo had remained in a largely weakened race after DP and joint opposition candidate Deo Hasubi Njoki and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party candidate, Paul Boniface Oguttu, were on Friday kicked out of the race by the Electoral Commission (EC) on grounds of discrepancies in their academic papers.
However, in dramatic fashion on Monday morning, Mr Umar Kiyimba, the Busia district returning officer declared Wandera, who is NRM leaning, unopposed.
“I hereby declare Mr Geoffrey Wandera as the elected district chairperson of Busia District,” Mr Kiyimba said, adding that the parliamentary election act mandates the EC to declare a candidate winner in case his or her opponents withdraw from the race.
In response, Wandera called for unity.
“My leadership will be creating a district that works for everyone in all sectors with discrimination most especially in health and education,” he said.
The EC, in a letter dated November 23 addressed to NRM and DP, the EC chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama, disqualified the candidature of Njoki (DP) and Oguttu (NRM) from the race on grounds of discrepancies in the names they presented for the nomination.
For the DP candidate, who was also the joint opposition candidate, the EC ruled that he was nominated under the names Hasubi Deogratius Njoki yet on the national voters register as well as his national ID his names are Hasubi Deogratius.
“In view of the above, the commission resolved that the person nominated under the names Hasubi Deogratius Njoki is not a registered voter under the National Voters Register and thus overturned the Returning Officer’s decision to have you nominated for the position of Busia District Chairperson,” Justice Byabakama’s letter states.
DP has announced that they will go to court, protesting the disqualification of the party candidate from the race. On Friday, Gerald Siranda, the DP Secretary General, lashed at the Electoral Commission for what he described as playing politics in the disqualification.
Siranda revealed that the EC had a lot of time to advise the candidate about the irregularities in the names and wondered why they waited till only five days to the election.
He added that the EC played politics by also disqualifying the NRM candidate to show that they were fair. Nevertheless, he said that they will seek justice in court.