Both Otto and Anywar are among some of the longest-serving legislators in Acholi Sub-region who suffered a heavy defeat in the hands of their opponents as they made attempts to seal their parliamentary bids for the fifth and fourth terms respectively.
Aruu County Member of Parliament Samuel Odonga Otto and Beatrice
Anywar, the Kitgum Municipality Member of Parliament and State Minister for
Environment were defeated in the recent parliamentary elections.
Both Otto and Anywar are among some of the longest-serving legislators in
Acholi Sub-region who suffered a heavy defeat in the hands of their opponents
as they made attempts to seal their parliamentary bids for the fifth and fourth
Otto was defeated by Christopher Komakech, an independent candidate who
garnered 9,327 votes against Otto's 5,953 votes. Meanwhile, Anywar was defeated
by Denis Onekalit Amere, a Forum for Democratic Change-FDC party candidate who
polled 3,263 votes against 3,052 votes.
Otto and Anywar made their first shot in Parliament in 2001 and 2006
respectively as aggressive critics of President Museveni’s NRM government. Then
as loyalists of the country’s strongest opposition political Party FDC, the
legislators capitalized on the government’s weakness in addressing poor service
delivery in education and the health sector, land rights, and infrastructure in
Anywar’s popularity in the region can be traced to her commitment to fighting
environmental degradation and the plights of vulnerable people especially young
children afflicted by nodding syndrome.
Peter Opika Opoka, the former Coordinator of the Red Cross Society and a
political pundit in Kitgum District says Anywar’s political downfall is a
result of both her mistakes and the new political dimension she took. Opoka
says Anywar’s political journey started on a high note and highlighted that the
legislator was pro vulnerable people, at a time few women took on political
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Opoka, however, says Anywar’s loss in the recent Parliamentary election was
inevitable and traced it to her decisions to switch to the ruling NRM party. He
notes that Anywar’s loyalty and close ties to President Museveni was a concern
for many top NRM party members in Kitgum District that created tension.
Opoka says whereas Anywar was a new convert to the Party, she
enjoyed an upper hand working with the president more than the loyal carders in
the district who felt threatened and eventually turned to fight her.
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Opoka also believes the final nail on Anywar’s popularity came after she
decided to vote in favour of removal of the controversial age limit bill in
2018 against the voice of her people in Kitgum District.
He says that when she was appointed a Minister, she became too
passionate to promote the ideology of the party instead of representing the
voice of her electorates, who would later pay with a protest vote in favour of
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Author Awor, the Executive Director of Center for African Research says
intrigue in the NRM party in Kitgum District greatly led to the downfall of Anywar.
He says many NRM party loyalists in the district saw Anywar as a rival who had
been establishing her strength outside the normal party structure in the
district and need to be stopped to curtail her dominance.
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But one of the NRM party loyalists in Kitgum District who didn’t want to be
named thinks Anywar’s defeat was not a fight inside the party, but rather the
voice of the people who wanted new leadership.
He says the party had also tried to incorporate Anywar into their structure to
streamline her campaign but the 57-year-old legislator felt too “big” and above
the district party structure which would later cost her their support.
The NRM Party Chairperson for Kitgum District George Ayella,
however, rubbished the claims that Anywar was fought by members and didn’t
align herself with the party structure.
He instead attributes her loss to the high numbers of opposition party
loyalists in the district who are more than NRM voters.
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Ayella also notes that Anywar’s rival Henry Kissinger Oryem who
was defeated in the NRM party primary but contested as an independent to
contest against her greatly affected the votes.
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Oryem finished in the fourth position in the polls garnering 1,297 votes. Anywar
didn’t pick up our repeated phone calls to comment on this article.
In Aruu County, the defeat of Otto according to Owor was a choice of the people
who felt they needed a new leader. He says whereas Otto has performed well in
Parliament by consistently debating on the matters surrounding Acholi, people
believed he had outlived his usefulness back home in his constituency.
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Marcilina Adong, resident of Ogom Sub-county in Pader District reiterates
Owor’s statements arguing that the locals haven’t had a clear agenda for Aruu
County while he canvassed for votes recently.
Adong notes that Odonga has only been abusing his closest rival Komakech
instead of outlining his work plan for the next five years have also had no
clear line of work in the past 19 years in Parliament.
She had expected the legislator to hint on the state of the district health
facilities, poor roads and education and how he will influence the government
to improve their status.
For instance, in Otto’s Aruu constituency, all three Health Facilities
of Pader Town Council HCIII, Puranga Health Center III, and Awere
Health Center III has been in a dire state. The district has also since its
creation been reliant on Pajule Health Center IV minus a district hospital
despite growing cases of health complications.
Samson Obol, an elder from Pader Sub-County says Otto had been in parliament
for 20 years performing well in representation but had a poor performance in
social responsibility with his people. He says the locals have this time spoken
their minds to have in place a leader who listens to them but not himself.
Meanwhile, Denis Onen believes Otto’s troublesome behaviours with fellow
political and religious leaders in Acholi sub-region caused him the needed
trust from his locals. Otto has on record openly attacked his fellow
legislators Reagan Okumu, Anthony Akol, and the former second curate of Holy
Rosary Parish in Gulu. Gulu Archdiocese in June last year had to intervene and
quell down a tension that had gone sour between Rev. Fr One and Otto.
In East Acholi, six other incumbent legislators also lost their bid to retain
their parliamentary seats in the concluded elections.
They include Prof Morris Ogenga Latigo who lost the Agago North county
parliamentary seat, Agago District Woman Member of Parliament Judith Franca
Akello, Agago County, the incumbent Member of Parliament, Edward Makmot Otto.
Others are Pader district Woman Member of Parliament, Lowila Oketayot C.D, Aruu
North County MP Lucy Aciro Otim and Lamwo District woman MP Molly Lanyero.