NRM ‘rebel’ MPs run to court over Museveni’s sole candidature

Since the introduction of the a bill to amend the Constitution in 2017 to delete a clause that would have barred President Yoweri Museveni from seeking to stay in office after 2021, a group of NRM MPs led by Lwemiyaga’s Theodore Ssekikubo have turned into a thorn in the ruling party’s flesh.

On Tuesday, 11 of the 27 MPs that opposed what came to known as the age limit bill, have filed a petition in the Constitutional Court, challenging the constitutionality of their party’s resolution to declare Museveni as the NRM sole candidate for the 2021 elections.

In February, the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) passed the resolution during a retreat at Chobe Safari Lodge in Murchison Falls National Park before the party MPs ratified it a month later at the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi.

The 11 MPs namely, Barnabas Tinkasimire (Buyaga  West), John Baptist Nambeshe  (Manjiya), Patrick Nsamba Oshabe (Kassanda North) , Mbwatatekamwa Gaffa (Kasambya), Samuel Lyomoki  (Workers), Silvia Akello (Otuke Woman), Susan Amero (Amuria Woman) , James Acidri (Maracha East),  Bildad Moses Adome (Jie) and Ssekikubo contend that the resolution is illegal.

Through their lawyers from Alaka and Company Advocates, Niwagaba Advocates and Solicitors and  Barirere , Muhangi and Company Advocates, the MPs contend that the resolution adopted at Chobe Safari Lodge on February 19, declaring Museveni as the party’s sole candidate in the forthcoming elections is inconsistent with several articles of the Constitution of Uganda.

The resolution was made by the party’s top organ Central Executive Committee (CEC) but now the petitioners state that CEC doesn’t have the mandate to endorse Museveni.  This is because CEC which passed the resolution to endorse Museveni for 2021 elections and beyond allegedly lacked the mandate and legitimacy since its term of office expires on June 30th, 2020.

They further state that the decision made by the NRM Chief Whip and the Chairperson NRM Parliamentary caucus in blocking them from attending the seven-day retreat in Kyankwanzi in March 2019 is also arbitrary because they were never given a right to fair hearing.

The ‘rebel’ MPs also state that the endorsement of the president excludes all other aspiring NRM members from offering themselves as presidential candidates in in the coming elections.

According to the NRM Constitution, every member shall have a right to take part in the discussions at the organ where he or she belongs, a right to attend meetings of such organ and a right to take part in nomination papers, organize and conduct elections.

But the MPs now say that Museveni who is also the Chairperson NRM CEC has since gained the advantage as a result of the overwhelming incumbency to extract personal interest following the endorsement.

“Political parties and the nascent multi-party democracy are vehicles for interest articulation and interest aggregation without which, there will be waning of peace, order, security and tranquillity- the hallmarks of rule of law and constitutionalism”, their petition reads in part.