On August 30, 2010, LL.M. Class of 2007 graduate Jacob Oboth ran in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party parliamentary primaries for the West Budama South county seat in eastern Uganda’s Tororo district. Since he received 17,835 votes and the incumbent, state labor minister Emmanuel Otaala, received 11,123, Oboth assumed victory.
His opponent disagreed. Shortly after results were announced, according to an Aug. 31 article on New Vision, a Ugandan news Web site, Otaala declared on local radio, “I have won the parliamentary polls for West Budama South seat. Let nobody confuse you.”
West Budama county is composed of five sub-counties, one of which is Iyolwa, Otaala’s home. A region that previously counted four parishes and 30 villages for a total of 7,074 NRM voters, Iyolwa had recently grown dramatically in terms of voter numbers. Oboth contended that the increases were a scheme by Otaala and district party electoral officials to rig elections.
“As a result of the six fictitious parishes and 124 ghost villages, the total NRM voter population in Iyolwa soared to 17,100 voters,” Oboth said in a Sept. 22 New Vision article.
Oboth, former eastern region principal resident state attorney and former deputy solicitor general for Mbale, had filed an injunction in Mbale High Court on August 27, requesting that NRM elections in Iyolwa be barred pending cleaning of its party register. The party ignored the injunction and held elections in Iyolwa. When those votes were included in the count, Otaala came out on top.
However, Oboth was named the victor on a list of party primary winners released by the NRM, according to a Sept. 23 New Vision article. “The list now seems to seal the fate of labour state minister Emmanuel Otaala,” the article stated.
Mbale High Court is expected to start hearing the election case soon and make a ruling in time to allow candidates to prepare for the nominations for general elections, to be held Nov. 25, 2010. “Given the uncertainty,” Oboth said in an email, “I still have to pursue the court for the ruling.”