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30 Youths Enter EALA Race

Over twenty youths have so far joined the race for the East African Legislative Assembly – EALA, competing with some senior legislators for the nine slots reserved for Uganda. The race has this year attracted an unprecedented number of contestants, running now close to 50. Several of the older contestants are former MPs who failed to make it back to the 9th parliament.
Over twenty youths have so far joined the race for the East African Legislative Assembly – EALA, competing with some senior legislators for the nine slots reserved for Uganda.

The EALA race has this year attracted an unprecedented number of contestants, running now close to 50. Several of the older contestants are former MPs who failed to make it back to the 9th parliament.

The contestants have recently swarmed parliament with so many campaign messages being thrown at legislators who are the voters, forcing some of the MPs to quietly vow that they would rather choose their nine from the incumbents.

Among the prominent ones standing include a former MP in the 7th Parliament Wandera Martin, Kwameh Rugunda, a son to ICT Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, Florence Rwanika Ddudu, a wife to former EALA representative and now a Resident District Commissioner, Capt. Baker Ddudu and Asiimwe Stephen, a Pan-Africanist and NRM party youth mobiliser. These are in addition to the incumbent MPs Nusura Tiperu and Kidega Dan, who are also contesting to defend their seats at the regional parliament.

Other contestants include Kamurali Jeremiah, Ambrose Murangira, Agaba Abas, a former Parliamentary candidate for Kitagwenda County, Patrick Yehangane, a lawyer, Capt. Ruhinda Maguru Daudi, a former aspirant against President Yoweri Museveni in the NRM primaries and Tusiime Araali.

The youths have injected in the campaigns a rare energy and enthusiasm not seen before in past EALA elections; pitching camp daily at the parliamentary canteen, smartly clad in expensive suits, and with heavy paper documents, from morning to late in the evenings, when MPs have retired home.

Looking at them spending long days in parliament, walking from one MP to another in search of a vote, one would be forgiven for thinking the youthful contestants are idle or unemployed. But they have denied using the EALA platform as a job hunting venture.

Wandera Martin says that if elected, he would push for policies that favour production and Industries, reducing gaps in the energy sector through setting up a common regional energy policy and establishing a people-centered policy that puts people first and not just macro economics.

He said that majority of the crises in the world today are due to lack of jobs for the youth, a situation that he says should be plugged in the region as well, before it gets worse.

Kwameh Rugunda, on the other hand, says that the young people should be voted for on the basis of their ability and not just age. Rugunda argues that the next five years of the community are going to be critical, because it is the time when the complete federation is hoped to be achieved.

He says the campaigns for the federation across the region will need energetic and vibrant legislators, adding that he will employ his ICT knowledge to promote more the values of the federation.

Asiimwe says the biggest loophole he has observed in the on-going attempts at federation is the lack of sensitization of the national citizens on their role to promote the community. He says that if elected, he would prioritise sensitization and education on the benefits of the integration to Ugandans and other citizens in the region.

Uganda is now awaiting a legal interpretation on how the national parliament can elect its representatives across party affiliations before it can carry on with its choices. The new EALA MPs will be sworn-in in June this year.

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