After three weeks of arguing over the method of picking flag bearers in the forthcoming General Election, the ruling National Resistance Movement party yesterday settled for lining up behind candidates.
The Central Executive Committee (CEC), the supreme organ of the ruling party chaired by President Museveni, met behind closed doors at State House Entebbe yesterday and endorsed the 2021 NRM election roadmap that will be launched today.
Sources intimated last evening that the
President rejected the secret ballot arrangement and supported lining up to
ensure transparency and credibility of the electoral process.
The NRM chairman told CEC members that the lining up is cost-effective and prevents the learned people from “stealing elections”.
He also explained that the roadmap delayed because the party needed to answer legal and political questions and also consult stakeholders before rolling out the roadmap.
Although the party constitution provides for lining up behind candidates, some members of the party electoral commission and CEC were pushing for the secret ballot, citing Covid-19.
Other sources, however, talked of “egotism”, “appetite for lucrative procurement deals” and a group of well-connected National Executive Committee (NEC) members who for fear of the unknown didn’t want lining up behind candidates.
The plan according to a senior party official was to push for constitutional amendment resolution in CEC using Covid-19 as a cover. The secret ballot would then provide a cover for losers in the party primaries to run as independents. Under the secret ballot arrangement, sources said it would be easy for the architects to blame rigging and lack of transparency.
The CEC members have approved Standard Operating Procedures for the primaries and strict adherence to Ministry of Health guidelines and revised regulations governing political parties conduct.
For instance, the open rallies have been banned, every voter must wear a facemask and polling officials will ensure a two-metre distance is maintained at all times.
The campaigns will be virtual and those found in breach of the approved guidelines will be punished by the party Electoral Commission. At the various polling stations across the country, the party will provide temperature guns, sanitisers as well hand-washing facilities.
The EC and other leaders at the Secretariat have been tasked to meet and come up with the budget requirements. CEC members have also tasked NRM EC to do avoid a repeat of the chaos that characterised the previous NRM primaries.
The party will today launch the approved
roadmap at a news conference at the NRM Secretariat in Kampala.
The Secretary General, Ms Kasule Lumumba and party EC chairman Tanga Odoi are expected to read out the dates as well as rules for conducting the primaries for special interest groups, local government elections, parliamentary elections and presidential.
Meanwhile, President Museveni on Wednesday met 27 NRM MPs who in December 2017 voted against the removal of age limit cap from the 1995 Constitution. It was a closed-door meeting attended by SG Lumumba.
However, sources said the MPs were apologetic and promised to work with the party chairman. The rebel MPs explained that they voted against the age limit removal because of the pressure from their constituents.
After consulting party lawyers, the President took the matter to CEC yesterday and is said to have quoted the Parable of the Prodigal Son as captured in the Bible Luke 15:11-32 and asked the party to forgive the rebel MPs.
CEC members debated the pros and cons of the MPs return and resolved to forgive them in the interest of unity and harmony. The MPs will not face the disciplinary committee and they are now free to contest in the forthcoming NRM party primaries.
Parliament passed the Constitutional
Amendments Bill on December 20 2017 amid acrimony and controversy. The matter
would later go to courts of law before the petitioners lost the case in the
Constitutional Court and later in the Supreme Court.
The hearing of the same case is on-going before the East Africa Court of Justice.