President Yoweri Museveni is in Butaleja district to reconcile members of the ruling National Resistance Movement ahead of the February 11 by election.
The supporters have been divided following the death of Cerinah Nebanda, the Butaleja Woman MP in December last year.
Museveni arrived in Butaleja at around 3:30pm on Friday aboard a Presidential Helicopter. He landed at Butaleja Technical School, from where he was picked and driven in his official vehicle to the venue of the meeting at Butaleja District headquarters, about 3 kilometers.
The meeting is being attended by more than 900 NRM leaders from the local councils up to district level including all the resident district commissioners from the sub region and NRM MPs from Butaleja.
The NRM top leaders attending the meeting include Dorothy Hyuha, Uganda’s Ambassador to Tanzania, Sarah Kataike, State Minister for Health, Richard Todwong, Minister without Portfolio, and Sarah Opendi, the State Minister for Primary Health Care.
All the five NRM members who lost in the recent NRM primary elections are also attending the meeting. They are Allen Wegulo, Sarah Nambasi, Aidah Hadoto Birikire, Mary Ngoira and Betty Nesihwe.
Florence Nebanda Andiru, the late Nebanda’s sister and NRM flag bearer in the by-election, is also in the meeting together with some of her family members including her grandfather, Mzee Yonasani Hiriye.
Journalists have been locked out of the meeting with organizers arguing that it is an internal reconciliatory meeting that does not require the attention of non-members.
According to one of the organizers who declined to be named because he is not allowed to talk to the media, the meeting is intended to reconcile NRM members in time for the by election. Nebanda’s death divided opinion locally and at the national level with some Members of Parliament accusing government of having a hand in the death. Government however released a report saying that Nebanda, who died suddenly, was a victim of a drug overdose.
The source said President Museveni also wants to drum up support from the members for Florence Nebanda Andiru.
He said members are also expecting that the President will use the meeting to clearly explain to them the death of their former MP and the government’s position on the matter.
A week after the death of Nebanda, several NRM officials in Butaleja threatened to boycott the by-election should government hurry with it before giving them a clear account on the death of their MP.
During her burial, residents chased away the government officials including Third Deputy Prime Minster General Moses Ali. Nebanda’s mother Alice Namulwa, tore into pieces a paper containing the condolence message from President Museveni calling it rubbish.
Andiru faces four other candidates in the race including Felistas Namwihiri, the FDC flag bearer, Betty Hamba, Sarah Annet Logose, and Munaba Perusi all independents.