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EALA Aspirants Sue NRM for Ring-Fencing Positions

The petitioners contend that by ring-fencing the positions EALA positions, they were denied an opportunity to democratically contest for election, which violates their constitutional rights.
The applicant's lawyers filing the case on Thursday before the High Court Registry.

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Twenty-three-23 aspirants have petitioned the High Court to restrain the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM party from implementing its decision to ring-fence six positions of members of parliament for the East African Legislative Assembly-EALA. 

The applicants are part of more than 100 people who had expressed interest to hold the flag for NRM in the coming elections for 6 out of the 9 EALA sits meant for Uganda. In their petition before the High Court Civil Division, the applicants contend that the Central Executive Committee, NRM't top organ violated their constitutional rights when it chose to maintain the incumbent MPs in the Assembly in its July 8th, 2022, decision.

“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 petitioners contend that by ring-fencing the positions EALA positions, they were denied an opportunity to democratically contest for election,  which violates their constitutional rights. 

They add that they were denied the opportunity to express themselves, campaign, and mobilize support for their candidature that tantamounts to disenfranchisement, adding that they have since suffered losses as a result of the CEC resolution.  

The applicants want the court to declare that the CEC resolution to endorse /nominate the incumbent NRM representatives to the EALA as party candidates for the 2022-2027 term of office without holding valid elections is tainted with illegality, irrationality, unreasonableness, procedural impropriety, discriminative of other aspiring contestants and therefore null and void.

They further want an injunction restraining the respondents who include NRM party and its Electoral Commission from implementing the resolution unless the same is amended to allow the nomination and primary elections of flag bearers. 

The applicant's lawyer, Robert Rutaro, says that his clients also want an order directing the party to nominate them and pay them damages caused to them because of the CEC decision.

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Cue out: …from the court”.//

On July 11th 2022, the applicants wrote to the NRM Secretary General, the party chairperson, General Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, and the party Electoral Commission chairperson informing them about their intention to sue stemming from the CEC decision.

They asked them to reverse the decision within three days, second and nominate them to NRM parliamentary caucus to campaign and look for votes as flag bearers. 

The case is yet to be fixed for hearing.

The 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.

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