Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Twenty-three members of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) have written to the party Secretary-General and the party Electoral Commission chairperson contesting their elimination from the primaries of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) race.
The complainants are Nuwabiine Jossy, Maganda Julius, Nuwagaba Herbert, Dr. Isaac Lwanga Byangire, Samuel Mugenyi, Kyasiimire Sheilah, Amanya German, Kyaguna Robert, Abigaba Adonia, Mivule Ronald, and Nampwera Ambrose.
The others are Kizito Richard, Ategeka Moses, Webale Robert, Kawooya Kigongo Samuel, Isa Kato, Ruth Karungi, Agaba Gilbert, Rwebisengye L.B, Asimwe Micheal, Dr. Kisembo Emmanuel, Ivan Mutsika and Bwengye Lauben.
Led by their lawyer Robert Rutaro from Elgon Advocates, the petitioners have indicated their intention to sue the NRM Secretary-General Richard Todwong, and Dr. Tanga Odoi, the NRM Electoral Commission chairperson citing unfair, undemocratic, and unconstitutional treatment by the party Central Executive Committee (CEC). The office of the NRM secretary general and Tanga Odoi recieved the letter, a copy of which URN has seen.
The letter is copied to President Yoweri Museveni, who chairs the NRM’s top organ, the Central Executive Committee. On July 8th, 2022, the CEC resolved to maintain all six NRM representatives at the East African Legislative Assembly- EALA ahead of the elections in August 2022.
“The 4th Central Executive Committee-CEC of the National Resistance Movement-NRM, at its 10th meeting sitting at Entebbe Friday, July 8th, 2022 hereby recommends that the incumbent EALA be maintained in recognition of their exceptional performance to continue their tenure for another term,” Richard Todwong, the NRM Secretary General communicated.
CEC then recommended the incumbent EALA members to the NRM Parliamentary Caucus as the NRM candidates for the EALA seats. They include Mary Mugyenyi, Rose Akol, Stephen George Odongo, Denis Namara, James Kakooza, and Paul Musamali Mwasa.
The decision by CEC was despite an expression of interest by 130 aspirants to be elected to occupy six of the nine slots for Uganda at the sub-organ of the East Africa Community – EAC. The aggrieved aspirants accuse CEC of being unfair, unjust, and undemocratic.
“By ring-fencing the positions of Members of Parliament for EALA, our clients were effectively denied an opportunity to democratically contest and be voted for in those positions which is a violation of their constitutional rights. Our clients were denied the opportunity to express themselves, campaign, and mobilize support for their candidature and thus tantamount to disenfranchisement,” says lawyer Rutaro.
He adds that the aspirants incurred expenses in terms of time and financial resources in preparation for and mobilizing support to be elected as EALA NRM parliamentary flag bearers. “The resolution of CEC does not amount to an election; it is at best an undemocratic dictatorship. CEC has no mandate under any law including the party constitution to hand-pick candidates for elective offices without giving those candidates the opportunity to be heard. Therefore the resolution of CEC is legally naked, baseless and shall be challenged in courts of law,” reads the letter.
Rutaro adds that the aggrieved aspirants were stakeholders in the electoral vetting process and were supposed to be consulted by CEC before arriving at the resolution. They now demand a reversal of the CEC resolution endorsing the six incumbent EALA MPs in favor of open competition. Rutaro says that failure to honor their demands, the aspirants will seek legal redress against the party officials.
Article 9 (1) (e) of the NRM Constitution provides that every member of the NRM shall have a right to take part in elections and be eligible for election in any elective office within the structures of the NRM or appointed to any committee, structure, commission, or delegation of NRM.
Elected representatives to EALA from the 7 member states of Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Burundi, and new entrant the Democratic Republic of Congo – DRC serve a five-year-tenure. The current 4th Assembly has 62 members, whose term commenced in 2017 and expires in August 2022.
According to Article 50 of the East African Community Treaty, members are elected by their respective country’s national legislature. Article 50 also requires the said members to reflect their country’s political parties, opinions, gender composition, and other special groups.