KAMPALA: The Iteso on social media are already discussing succession in the Iteso Cultural Union-ICU after the burial of the first Paramount Chief, Augustine Osuban Lemukol, on Saturday.
Some are proposing names of candidates for the position of Emorimor, while others are offering guidance for the same course. Simon Okurut, the ICU Chairperson in Serere, says that the election of Emorimor should be conducted after six months, a period he notes is adequate to enable Iteso to mourn and prepare for the election.
Within our culture, the mourning of the paramount chief takes two months, during which time the grave should be protected by guards. After two months, we are supposed to conduct some ceremonies to mark the end of mourning (aipudun ekale). It’s after the two months that succession discussions and the search for the next leader may commence, “he said.
According to the ICU Constitution, the election of Emorimor should be on a rotational basis from any of the four regions: Tororo, Kenya, Pallisa, and the old Kaberamaido before the creation of Kalaki district (Kumam). But the Kumam are also in the process of electing their own cultural leader (Won Atekerin), slated for February 26, 2022.
The ICU Constitution states that when the office of Emorimor falls vacant, the chairperson of the ICU Council is supposed to notify all delegates and invite the interested candidates to fill out nomination forms. It is from there that an extraordinary conference of the delegates is convened for the same purpose.
But before his death, Osuban had suspended the ICU Council headed by Paul Sande Emolot over alleged irregularities and inconsistencies in the November, 2019 elections. His decision was informed by the recommendations of the Harmonization Committee chaired by Fr. Robert Ecogu of the Soroti Catholic Diocese. The same committee dissolved the ICU Electoral Commission for the alleged gross conduct during the 2019 elections.
Jonathan Maraka, the ICU spokesman, says that while the council is suspended, the cabinet runs all the activities of the institution to enable its restoration.
However, the Prime Minister, also known as the Ekirigi of ICU, Augustine Omare-Okurut, says that the institution has a council headed by Emolot. During the ecumenical prayers in Soroti and the burial of Osuban in Serere, Omare recognized and introduced Emolot to the mourners, although he didn’t give him (Emolot) any opportunity to speak.
In Soroti, the Minister of State for Gender and Culture, Peace Mutuuzo, expressed concern over the succession of Osuban in Teso. Mutuuzo cited the ongoing rows over the replacement of Bamasaba cultural leader and head of Inzu Ya Masaba Cultural Institution, Bob Mushikori, and the leader of the Obwa Ikumbania cultural institution, Bishop John Crezestom Wayabire. Both cultural heads died last year, but their successions have thrown their subjects into chaos.
In December last year, Osuban declined to attend a meeting organized by the ICU Council headed by Emolot when he allegedly received information relating to ulterior motives to impeach him. It was at the same time that the letters of suspension of the ICU Council and dissolution of the ICU Electoral Commission were exposed. It later emerged that the letters were written in June, 2021.
During the ecumenical prayers for Osuban in Soroti, the embattled ICU Council Chairman, Paul Sande Emolot, and some of his council members were seen with “royal guards” not seen before the death of Osuban.
Teso Mutuuzo said that she will return to Teso in no more than two weeks’ time to provide guidance on how to elect the new Emorimor. On the grounds that it is not proper in the culture of Iteso, Mutuuzo and the Ekirigi of Iteso declined to discuss the subject during the burial.