Even though Lawyer Asuman Basalirwa would arguably be mentioned with pride among the best legislators to have been produced in Busoga region, reelection will unsurprisingly not be a walk in the park for the man whose protracted journey to Parliament took a lengthy two decades until just two years ago.
Asuman had unsuccessfully attempted to represent his people on at least five occasions beginning with the youth parliamentary elections of 2001, the 2002 by-election in Bukooli North, 2006,2011 and 2016.
Basalirwa is a strategic cornerstone politician for Bobi Wine in the Busoga sub region. With Abdul Katuntu having announced his resignation from politics and Jinja West’s Paul Mwiru seemingly not ready to risk decamping Muntu’s ANT in favor of the man from Magere, Asuman remains to be the man on whom opposition politics in Busoga hinges unless FDC historicals Salaam Musumba and Wafula Ogutu can successfully regain their places in Parliament for Kamuli Municipality and Bukooli Central respectively.
In 2018 when majority had already written him off as a politically cursed failure, he pulled out his reserved political master stroke, flooring his closest rival John Francis Okecho in an unprecedented election that for the first time put the two biggest political groups – NRM and FDC in the country on a weighing scale with political newbie Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu who barked Basalirwa.
To show how significant that election was, Bobi Wine who had been in the wings of opposition strong man Kizza Besigye all along got the confidence that he could take on Museveni by himself and started building his political base with a Presidential ambition in mind.
The victory of a Bobi Wine barked Basalirwa in Bugiri was a painful political statement for the ruling regime who will do all it takes to have it undone when the opportunity finally arrives next year.
With Basalirwa’s most fierce rival John Francis Okecho swearing in determination to usurp the seat he eternally believe is his.
Beaming with unprecedented political morale having almost singlehandedly delivered a lifelong dream of Parliament to Asuman, Kyagulanyi didn’t waste time to go and take part in yet another by election that would further tickle Museveni and and improve his (Bobi Wine’s) political rating among the political giants of the time.
Just like in Bugiri, the Arua Municipality by election had candidates from both the opposition FDC and ruling NRM and Bobi Wine opted for an independent Kasiano Wadri against FDC’s Musema Bruce.
It was reported that Bobi Wine had carefully taken time before reaching a decision on who to back in Arua for two major reasons. One was that having engineered an offensive against Besigye – his political godfather in Bugiri, he had to weigh in on whether to stay back in that by election or use the election to assert his political independence once and for all. Secondly, the by election had been too close to call between the two major opposition candidates – Musema Bruce and Kasiano Wadri. As such, Bobi Wine was conscious about the possibility of soiling his good political record in Rukungiri, Jinja and Bugiri through backing a failing candidate.
Eventhough many later on concluded that Wadri would still have won the Arua Municipality election even without Bobi Wine’s participation, it’s on record that the encounter availed him with a platform that would later make him the most popular opposition politician in the whole world.
The pomp with which he entered Arua, fresh from delivering Asuman to Parliament in Bugiri, painting tje whole town in red with thousands of his supporters singing victory songs as he advanced for the final Wadri rally, opponents were thrown in panic.
The morale high pro – Wadri opposition had sent the pro NRM supporters in a meltdown. The following panic led to a scandle that results in the shooting frenzy by security that resultantly led to the death of Bobi Wine’s driver Yasin Kawuma.
Bobi Wine himself was violently apprehended from a hotel room and charged with treason after being served with bitter regime floggings that left him with life threatening injuries. His most trusted deputies such as Mps Zake Francis Butebi, Paul Mwiru of Jinja West, Bugiri Mp elect Asuman Basalirwa and Kasiano Wadri were among others arrested and jointly charged with him.
Besides helping Wadri to win that election two days later, the ugly happenings in Arua elevated Bobi Wine into a fierce Museveni challenger never to coil back again. Locally, it facilitated the shifting of attention from four time Presidential challenger Col Dr Kizza Besigye to the new youthful Bobi Wine whom many especially the youth believed that his lack of prior proximity to the system was all that would make the difference in seeking lasting political change.
It also caused an international stir with the young legislator enjoying unprecedented media attention and resultantly appearing on global media powerhouses such as BBC, Voice of America, Aljazeera among others.
At the height of the global popularity, the UK Parliament debated his plight in the house with members expressing concern about the gross human rights violations in Uganda.
Back home, Bobi Wine became a popular item of the menus provided by all media houses. Looking at him on clutches after the violence that was reportedly exerted upon him was a defining moment for all those that felt that change was a necessity then than never before.
All through these complicated troubled times, Basalirwa kept by his side, representing him in his unending legal woes being the good lawyer that he is.
With 2021 likely to gift Bobi Wine with a very busy schedule as he seeks to shoot at the presidential seat, Bugiri will certainly not be his home the way it was in 2018.
Given the magnitude with which the giant of the law – Asuman punches holes in Kaguta’s administration, kicking him out of Parliament will be a regime’s preoccupation come next year. Given the fact that he has not been able to live to the expected efficiency as a member of Parliament maybe due to the limited time he has had to serve in Parliament, the future is indeed blurry for Basalirwa.
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