PHOTO: When Speaker Anita handed over her staff then, Herbert Edmund Ariko to NRM to contest on ruling party ticket. On extreme rifht is Capt. Mike Mukula and Haji Moses Kigongo (NRM VC). Extreme left is Hon. Rose Namanja Nsereko and Dr. Tanga Odoi (NRM’s EC boss).

● How NRM’s Herbert Ariko managed to defeat Alupo’s machinery to win Soroti City East MP seat


WHEN Court nulified the Soroti East constituency elections over distortion of boundaries, a complex puzzle emerged for the NRM that was keen to capture the crucial seat in the heart of Teso politics. 
Herbert Edmund Ariko, who served in the 10th Parliament as Member of parliament but lost 2021 polls to FDC’s Moses Attan, had been given a permanent and pensionable Job as the director in the office of the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Anita Annet Among.

Sources at Parliament confirm that, Madam Speaker was not keen to release his trusted lieutenant and an agreement had been reached to have him back another candidate.

Herbert Ariko was then sent to Soroti to help galvanize the NRM party supporters to support the preferred candidate, only to be ambushed by emotional voters demanding that he contests as the NRM candidate. 

With a divided NRM camp and an existing flag bearer who by law had the flag for 5 years, the party top brass sought audience with the party chairman and President Yoweri Museveni.
A meeting was called in Ntungamo at the time the president pitched camp there. 
The delegation included Vice president Jessica Alupo, Eastern region Vice chairman Capt. Mike Mukula, NRM EC boss Dr Tanga Odoi, Secretary General Richard Todwong and Herbert Ariko. 
While aboard the helicopter, the leaders generated consensus on what they would tell the head while Alupo remained quiet most part of the Journey. 
In front of the man from Rwakitura, Captain Mike Mukula made a case for Herbert Ariko candidature while the rest nodded in agreement. 

The VP Jessica Alupo on invitation to give her views as a daughter of the soil, allegedly sent the meeting into shock when she instead launched an attack on Ariko. 
She accused him of having failed to deliver to the voters making a case for why he lost the previous election. 
We are told, she asked NRM Party to back the candidature of FDC’s Moses Attan claiming he is a good opposition MP who is willing to work with the establishment while remaining in the FDC. In other words Attan was admitting to be a mole. 
The VP said Attan and Soroti city woman MP Joan Alobo are looking for an opportunity to to meet the head of state to discuss how they can work with him and she made a passionate appeal for the party to support Attan. 

NRM EC chief Tanga Odoi interjected asking the VP wether Attan will be willing to carry the NRM flag to which the VP responded that he would still be in FDC but work with the party like many others are doing. 

The head of state who looked betrayed, strongly rejected Alupo’s proposal saying the party will field a candidate and if the others want to work with the NRM they should come out clean. Museveni said to hell with Alupo’s idea, NRM is a mass party which will never fail to field a candidate in any election.
Vice president was in otherwards silenced! Ariko was endorsed by the ruling Party Chairman to contest and win this seat for NRM.

Speaker Anita Among keen to capture the seat for the NRM, put her soul and energy into the race deploying her blue eyed boys into the campaign. 
To protect the integrity of her office, madam Speaker stayed away from the official campaigns while coordinating a team that is on the ground. 
Sports minister Peter ogwang, Captain Mike Mukula and Soroti west MP Jonathan Ebwalu have been in constant touch with the Bukedea district Woman legislator.
Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa was also active in offering back end support to the Ariko campaign stepping foot in Soroti for fundraising. 
The duo would also hold meetings with the leadership of Jua kali, an influential grouping in the city that has previously been a pivotal campaign group for the FDC.  This team is now actively mobilising for the NRM.

With an eroded trust after the Ntungamo meeting, VP Alupo entered Soroti with a team of ministers loyal to her camp in the battle for supremacy in Teso politics 
With Ogwang, Mukula and the speaker on one side, the VP set up a parallel campaign structure one that is not trusted by the Ariko camp.
Sources close to NRM’s Ariko say the NRM candidate didn’t trust Alupo and decided to run his own race without involving her.

While all the other big shots including PM Robinah Nabanja shared the campaign platform with Ariko several times, reliable sources say Ariko asked VP Alupo to stay away from his rallies because of her message that he said, was an indirect support for FDC’s Attan, defying the party chairman’s decision.
The VP, insiders say, established a parallel campaign structure that had ministers Hellen Adoa, Asamo and former Tororo Municipality MP Sanjay Tana working away from the main campaign team of Herbert Ariko.

While  most analysts had earmarked the constituency as an FDC strong hold, the realities on the ground showed interesting dynamics Soroti city is where FDC’s Patrick Amuriat Oboi won the presidential polls and Paul Omer of the FDC is the mayor of the Division but the Soroti East Urban council is dominated by the NRM which has 20 councillors and independents allied to it compared to FDC’s 7 meaning a united front would create a powerful mobilization front. 

Retired colonel Kizza Besigye and NUP’s Robert Kyagulanyi led the final assault for the opposition as they traversed the constituency rallying them to return Attan to Parliament. Prime Minister Nabanja also flew back to Soroti vowing to stay until victory is delivered .

The race between the two leading candidates was phenomenon with both putting spirit fights to capture the seat.
In the end, Ariko scooped  9407 votes while Attan garnered 8771 votes. Ariko was declared winner, thanks to Rt. Hon. Speaker Anita Annet Among, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa, Captain Mike Mukula, NRM SG Richard Todwong, Minister Peter Ogwang, NRM EC boss Dr. Tanga Odoi, etc.
In other words ,Vice President’s fight against her own Party that politically resurrected her from the dead, went to waste, but exposed fights within NRM,

Wait for part II of this story. To talk to our editor, send an email at


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