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Election of Gulu market vendors’ leaders postponed after irregularity claims

(Last Updated On: 2 February 2023)

The election of vendors’ leaders at Gulu’s main market in Gulu City kicked off on Wednesday amid strings of accusations over irregularities from a section of vendors and market leaders.

The election will see a total of 28 positions filled for a three-year term. 28 different business sectors in the market accommodate over 4,000 vendors.

Although it had started peacefully early in the morning, chaos broke out later after two candidates vying to represent mobile vendors were disqualified for not registering with the market association. 

The decision sparked off protests from mobile vendors who comprise the largest number of vendors (about 1,500) in the market prompting the election to be postponed. 

Janani Loum, the former chairperson of Readymade vendors told TND News in an interview on Wednesday that they are not satisfied with the ongoing election since the rightful procedures were not followed.

He said those in charge of the election have failed to validate the registry and establish a complaint desk for aggrieved vendors.

“I disagree with today’s election, to my understanding, they are forcing it because of the interest of one person. The procedures are not being followed, even the notice was put at the gate and many vendors are not aware of the election,” Loum added.

He alleged that the amended constitution of the market vendors’ association wasn’t transparent, arguing that it should have been publicly conducted.

He has threatened to sue the current leaders for unlawfully conducting the election, adding that the election should be canceled and the rightful procedures followed.

Margaret Laker Ocan, another aggrieved vendor and member of the mobile vendor association, said the election shouldn’t have been held before the leaders gave out accountability for their three-year term in office. She also noted that the election isn’t free and fair and demanded cancellation.

Ocan accused the market leaders of frustrating the efforts of members to contest and vote on grounds that they are not registered members.

“I have been a member of vendors when I contested in 2019 as women chairperson. I had a receipt that was issued during the time which had the main Market association logo. I have misplaced it but the details are in the registry, however now when I tried contesting, they are saying my name isn’t in the registry,” Ocan added.

She said those who are opposed to the current leadership are being purposely frustrated by deliberately removing their names from the registry.

Patrick Omaya, the chairperson of Gulu main market association, however, denied the allegations of irregularities in the ongoing election in an interview.

Omaya said the amended constitution which is being contested was voted by 99 percent of the delegates and blamed the complainants for having other ill motives against the election.

“We amended the constitution based on the interest of the market vendors and we followed all the procedures to amend the constitution and the general assembly approved it. Of course, there are people not contented by that but we go by the majority, that’s a democracy.”

He noted that for a member to participate in voting and contest in any leadership position, he or she must be fully registered with the association.

Gulu main market was constructed to the tune of 28 billion shillings and commissioned in 2015 by President Yoweri Museveni.

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