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Mayors seek to block operationalization of new cities

Fortportal is among the municipalities turning into cities come 1st July, just a day away.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Mayors under their umbrella body, the Urban Authorities Association of Uganda have run to court seeking to block the operationalisation of the newly created cities some of which are expected to become operational at the start of the new financial year.

Those expected to start on July 1, 2020 include Jinja, Arua, Gulu, Fortportal, Mbale and Masaka cities. Hoima, Lira and Soroti cities will commence in July 2021 while Nakasongola, Kabale and Wakiso will commence in July 2023 and Entebbe July 2022. The cities were created from Parliamentary resolution of April 28th, 2020.

However, the petitioners contend that there is no law providing for the operationalisation of the said cities which might affect municipal mayors, councilors, division chairpersons and their respective councilors, town council / sub county chairpersons as well as their respective councilors.

They argue that the cities were given midterm commencement dates and were created by annexing neighboring sub-counties to municipalities yet the mother districts had already made resolutions giving authority of the annexed sub counties to the cities.

The petitioners contend that the respective municipalities which formed the nucleus of the new cities already have respective elected Municipal mayors who should form the interim city administration since the cities were curved out of municipalities where they were duly elected.

They say that if this doesn’t happen, the elected municipal, division and sub county chairpersons and councilors will be discarded since they won’t have offices. Led by their chairperson Majid Batambuze, the Mayor Jinja Municipality, the mayors also argue that the leaders will lose office prior to the completion of their terms which will lead to dis-empowerment and disfranchisement of their electorate.

Alternatively, the mayors want the commencement of the new cities stayed until after the next general elections so as to avoid a power vacuum such that all candidates can complete their respective terms of office. Through their lawyers of Galisonga and Company Advocates and Isabirye and Company Advocates, the mayors want court to postpone the commencement of the cities until their main suit is disposed off.

In the main application, the mayors want a declaration that the Urban Authorities Association members have a right to complete their terms of office. They note that they might lose their respective elected positions if an injunction is not granted. Justice Musa Ssekaana has fixed July 3rd, 2020 for the hearing of the application.

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