By Patrick Nimisi –
Anita Among is the new Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament after she was elected on Friday to the office vacated by Jacob Oulanyah, who died last Saturday in the United States.
Oulanyah was receiving treatment at a hospital in Seattle, Washington.
Among, the Bukedea District Woman MP polled 401 votes ahead of Bugiri Municipality legislator Asuman Basalirwa, who garnered 66 votes.
Ms Among was fronted by the ruling party NRM, which enjoys a majority in Parliament, while Mr Basalirwa is an opposition member. NRM has 330 lawmakers of the 519 elected MPs.
“By the grace of God, we shall do our bit to create a better country for all in honour of the legacy of our fallen leader and brother Jacob Oulanyah,” said Ms Among, after she was declared the winner by Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo, who presided over the election.
The government was forced to quickly set in motion the process to elect a new Speaker, as Parliament cannot transact any business when the office of the Speaker is vacant, as stipulated by the Constitution.
Ms Among, 48, who until Friday was the deputy Speaker since May 24, 2021, and presided over Parliament for most of the time while her boss battled cancer, is the second woman to rise to the position of Speaker after Rebecca Kadaga was occupied the office from 2011 to 2021.
Oulanyah’s death opened the race for his position, with the government in a rush to have a new Speaker sworn in by Friday to allow Parliament to resume and pay its respects to the fallen leader, who occupied the office for only nine months.
In the race to succeed him were 13 MPs, including Ms Among and four Cabinet ministers.