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Acholi MPs to Reach Consensus on APG Positions

At least 16 legislators have so far declared interests in the various positions of APG out of nine are for top slots by Tuesday, the closing date for declaration of interest, ahead of Thursday’s election.
Lamwo County Member of Parliament Hillary Onek, vying for Acholi Parliamentary Group Chairperson seat.

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Members of Parliament from the Acholi region will reach a consensus on leadership positions in the Acholi Parliamentary Group- APG.

A total of 29 legislators subscribing under the group are expected to convene in Parliament today to choose new leaders that will steer the agenda of the group in the 11th parliament.

At least 16 legislators had declared interests in the various positions of APG out of which nine are vying for the top slots by Tuesday, the closing date for submission of interest ahead of Thursday’s election.

They include Chua West legislator and current APG Chairperson Philip Polly Okin Ojara, The Minister for Relief, Disaster Preparedness and Refugees also Lamwo County MP Hillary Onek Obaloker, Omoro District Woman MP Catherine Lamwaka, and Kilak North MP Anthony Akol all vying for the APG Chairperson position.

Geoffrey Charles Okello, Nwoya East County MP, and Tonny Awany Nwoya County legislator are vying for the Vice-Chairperson position. Others are Gilbert Olanya Kilak South MP and John Amos Okot, the Agago North MP who is vying for Secretary-General Position while Aswa County MP Simon Wokorach is the only legislator who declared intention for Deputy Secretary-General Position.

Olanya, the APG Secretary-General says that they resolved to use consensus rather than secret voting to elect their leaders to avoid sowing hatred among the members. He says secret ballot voting will only be used as a last resort in case the members fail to agree on the respective candidates on Thursday.

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However, there has been discontent among some of the MPs who alleged that the constitution of APG is unfair after new Members of Parliament were barred from contesting for top positions.

The concerns followed the first meeting APG members in the 11th parliament held on Thursday last week. During the meeting, it was revealed that the group’s constitution is clear that only legislators who have served for at least two years were eligible for the chairperson and secretary-general position.

Some of the new MPs who had already shown interest in those top positions were forced to step down. APG currently consists of 19 new members of parliament out of the 29 legislators subscribing to the group.

Fr. Charles Onen, the Member of Parliament for Gulu East Constituency, who had shown interest in Chairperson APG, says he is disappointed with the old leadership on their approach to the election.

He says despite being in Parliament for two months now, APG leaders kept mute on the party constitution until last week when they got to learn that a section of the constitution bars new members from holding two top positions.

Fr. Onen says the move was suspicious since no written copy of the said constitution was availed to members arguing that it could have been deliberate to knock out the new cohort of MPs.

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Martin Ojara Mapenduzi, the Bardege-Layibi Division MP equally says nearly a week since the meeting was held, none of the members has received their copy of the APG constitution to corroborate the revelations.

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He says there is a need to amend the APG constitution for it to be fair for all members to contest for all the positions irrespective of the times they have spent in parliament.

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Olanya however says that in an interview that the constitution isn’t new and hasn’t been deliberately worked on to ring-fence the position from the current new members of Parliament.

He says they had intended to convene a meeting for all APG members to discuss matters surrounding APG and acquaint members with the constitution but several attempts were interfered with by the covid-19 lockdown and closure of parliament.

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Other members in the race to occupy APG leadership positions include Judith Peace Acan, Nwoya Woman MP as Treasurer, David Lagen Atuka, Agago County MP as Secretary Mobilization, Pader Woman MP Paska Aciro Menya for Deputy Secretary Mobilization and Gulu Woman MP Sharon Laker Balmoi for Parish Development representative.

Lillian Aber, Kitgum Woman MP seeks to occupy the legal affairs slot, Agago Woman MP Beatrice Akori in charge of PRDP/NUSAF/NAADs/, and Aruu County MP Christopher Komakech for health.

APG was formed in 1989 and was one of the first regional parliamentary groups formed in the National Resistance Council, an interim parliament created by the National Resistance Movement-NRM government. Its formation was at a time the region battled the brunt of various insurgencies including one of the longest and most brutal, the Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA rebel insurgency led by elusive leader Joseph Kony.

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