ARUA. Muni University secretary Fr Dr Epiphany Odubuker Picho has cautioned voters in Arua municipality to be accountable and shun any bribes that are intended to influence their voting decisions in the August 15th by-elections.

Dr Picho warned that the municipality risks “paying the price” if his call to shun bribes is not taken seriously.

“It is now time for the voters of Arua municipality to prove their worth, today children studying in nursery schools even know and practice bribery in their own campaigns and this must stop” Dr Picho said adding “Don’t send people to parliament because of money because we want to see improvement in Oli health centre IV and Arua regional referral hospital among other services”

He said Arua needs a trusted leader that will go to parliament to represent the people but not the parties they subscribe to Dr Picho urged all candidates to conduct peaceful campaigns and win or lose honourably.

He was giving a key note address during the first ever parliamentary debate for the upcoming by-election at the heritage courts hotel in Arua town on Saturday.
The debate, a brain child of Arua district NGO network in conjunction with all media outlets in the district attracted a select category on invitations while all proceedings were broadcast live on local media.

The West Nile Web also streamed the debate live on internet for viewers outside the region to follow.

Mr Moses Akuma, the coordinator of the event hailed the debate that brought all the candidates to the same podium as historic and an all important event that will shape the future of the region and the country at large.

Eleven out of the twelve candidates attended the debate with exception of National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate Ms Nusura Tiperu.

Attempts to read a letter from the Nusura Tiperu camp about her reasons for missing the debate were booed until the master of ceremony Mr Elly Nayenda was forced to back down.

Debate moderators Ms Mercy Munduru, a lawyer with FIDA, and local journalists Mr Noel Ayikobua of Radio Pacis and Mr Hafiz Bakhit of Arua one FM asked the candidates a wide range of questions with specific allocated time to prove their worth.

Later the candidates were also given time to ask a fellow colleague one question of their choice. Most of the questions were directed to veteran politician and former Terego member of parliament Mr Kassiano Wadri Ezati attracting wild and equal exciting reactions from his supporters and opponents.

Key highlights of the debate.

All candidates arrived past 7pm there by delaying the start-up. Debate was supposed to begin at 6:30 pm.

Mr Elton Nyero, a former army officer turned heads when he appeared with huge files and manila cards, his humour and way of speech amused the audience all through the debate.

Another exciting candidate Mr Bavuga Safi Aganasi, whose slogan is “defiance doctor 2” failed to convincingly explain the meaning of his slogan, his rather poor command of English turned heads all through the debate.

MPs from other parts of the country including the leader of opposition Ms Betty Aol, Mr Odonga Otto of Aruu county as well as West Nile parliamentarians graced the event. Veteran politicians, religious and cultural leaders also graced the function.

In a bid to foster peace, all candidates in their conclusive remarks were asked to state what would happen if they lost the elections and posed for a group photo.

debate groupCandidates take a group photo after the debate. PHOTO BY LEMA LARSEN

All other questions from the general audience were written on pieces of paper and handed to the moderators before directing them to the intended candidates.