News / Africa

In Uganda, Mixed Reactions to Africa’s Youngest MP

19 year-old Proscovia Alengot Oromait (left), Africa's youngest MP, with her sister in Kampala on September 21. (Hilary Heuler/VOA News)
19 year-old Proscovia Alengot Oromait (left), Africa's youngest MP, with her sister in Kampala on September 21. (Hilary Heuler/VOA News)
The Ugandan parliament swore in the youngest MP in African history this week, 19-year-old Proscovia Alengot Oromait.

Proscovia Alengot Oromait, a 19-year-old from eastern Uganda, took her oath of office Thursday as Africa’s youngest-ever member of parliament. Having won a local bi-election last week, Oromait will be filling the seat of her late father, a legislator who died in July.

But the difference is that while her father was an independent, Oromait belongs to Uganda’s ruling party, the National Resistance Movement or NRM.

The election is historic, leading some local media to speculate that politics could be changing in a country where around 50 percent of the population is below the age of 15.

But speaking to reporters on Thursday, Oromait made no claim to represent Ugandan youth, saying simply that she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps. “I wanted to run the programs that were left by my late dad behind. I want to fight [for] peace and unity between Teso and Karamoja. And that’s why I went for these bi-elections,” she said.

Nicholas Sengoba, a political commentator for Uganda's Daily Monitor newspaper, says the NRM was not seeking the youth vote when they chose her as their candidate.

“The calculations are not made in that way," Sengoba explained. "The calculations were for a victory, and that’s it. So it’s not really about that.”

What it is about, he says, is winning. The ruling party has lost a number of recent bi-elections, and Sengoba says the NRM’s priority at this point is to maintain their power in parliament. Party leaders guessed that Oromait might garner sympathy votes because of her family history, he says, and they guessed right.

“The NRM has been extremely desperate to stop this trend, and this perception that it is no longer an electable party, especially at the parliamentary level.  Because you know, the strength and the numbers of NRM within the parliament has helped to perpetuate this party and President Museveni in power,” stated Sengoba.

Not all NRM parliamentarians are pleased that their new colleague, fresh out of high school, is so young and inexperienced. For some, the election was an embarrassment, says Sengoba. “It has left the NRM within that particular region very, very divided. There are people who felt that this particular girl was simply stuffed down their throats. It is a very great embarrassment," he said. "And we don’t know how it will affect this young girl.”

But Oromait insists that despite her age, she is up to the task, and that voters in her district believe in her. “It’s not age that works, it’s the brain and the knowledge that one has to fight for the constituency," she said. "I believe I can fight for the people in my constituency, and the sole reason as to why they voted [for] me, it’s because they knew I’m capable of doing what they want.”

Oromait is currently enrolled in a university, and says she plans to balance her studies with her new duties as a politician.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: paul king'a from: Juba, South Sudan
September 23, 2012 2:56 AM
Stop complaining you veteran MPs don't you know that she campaigned and WON! God installs leaders. The respect the people gave to her father aggraveted it and her choice for the ruling party and the acceptance by the chairman of NRM made her sail thru. Cross your fingers and nature her up! I believe in the majority constituents and I never shall doubt Hon. Aleng'ot. Go baby girl Go!

by: Anyangaliec from: Rss
September 22, 2012 11:55 PM
No suprises that she succeed her late Father so easily! For me, I know why? And for anyone in the world who may think that it's historic, no it's not ? This is typical of Africa's politics.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

The Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More