The National Resistance Movement (NRM) has regulations which govern its internal party electoral processes, therefore it was premature and wrong for NRM members who were aggrieved when the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) nominated the incumbent representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) as party candidates flag bearers for the 2022-2027 EALA term of office without holding valid elections, a judge has said in a ruling.
Referring to National Resistance Movement Election Regulations 2020 which provides that there shall be an Election Disputes Tribunal at the National level and lower levels of authority, Judge Musa Ssekaana on 2nd August 2022 explained that the applicants were supposed to exhaust the internal remedies and the internal dispute resolution mechanism within the NRM Constitution, therefore their action before this court was premature.
By being the ruling party, the NRM is entitled to six slots at the East Africa Community (EAC) ‘parliament’ and as mandated, NRM’s CEC chaired by the party chairperson President Yoweri Museveni was supposed to oversee an election process which would produce the six aspirants who would finaly be decided on by parliament of Uganda. Instead, CEC in its wisdom decided to maintain the six individual which had represented the party at EALA.
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This aggrieved other party members who had shown interest in the EALA sits and they decided to go to court. Now, their application has been dismissed with costs to the respondents.
“Membership to a political party is not forceful, it is contractual, so you agree to be bound by the rules of the party to which you subscribe. Therefore for them to complain after not going through CEC is having their cake and eating it. It is approbation and reprobation, which is not allowed before this honorable court,” Judge Ssekaana noted in the ruling.
The 23 applicants applied for Judicial Review under Article 28 (1), 42 and 44(c) of the Constitution and Section 33,36 & 38 of the Judicature Act as amended, Articles 9(1)(e), 13(1), 39 (10)(a-e) of the Constitution of the National Resistance Movement (2015) as amended and Rules 3,6, 7 and 8 of the Judicature (Judicial Review) Rules, 2009.
The first respondent in this application was National Resistance Movement while the second respondent was the the NRM electoral commission.
In the application, the applicants desired that the court pronounces that it was irrational, unreasonable, discriminative and a procedural impropriety for CEC to endorse the incumbents without an election. They also wanted the court to quash and restrain the party from implementing ‘the impugned CEC resolution ring-fencing EALA (NRM) positions.’
The applicants also wanted the court to direct the second respondent to nominate the applicants as candidates to NRM Parliamentary Caucus for consideration and election as party flag bearers for the positions of Member of Parliament of EALA but the court has said the party electoral commission cannot be sued because it is not a proper party and doesn’t have a legal personality before the courts of law.
The ruling as delivered by Justice Ssekaana has irked the applicants. When contacted for a comment, Kato Isa, one of the 23 applicants described the ruling as cruel and said he was not happy. “It Is a pity about this cruel ruling. You can clearly identify a lot of selfishness in this ruling. Selfishness is very destructive to both our party and EALA,” Kato, one of the youthful cadres of NRM, noted.
He added: “EALA-MPs should not perceive these positions as permanent livelihoods. These EALA positions should be perceived as mere opportunities to serve. As much as possible, young and vigorous youths should be given opportunities to serve at EALA. This is the only way to make our party and EALA strong.