The ruling National Resistance Movement has received a total of 373 petitions challenging the recently concluded party primaries for parliamentary flag bearers held a week ago.
Addressing journalists at the party headquarters on Sunday, NRM’s director in charge of legal affairs, Oscar Kihika said following the September 4, polls, they received 463 petitions which he said have subsequently been consolidated into 373 petitions.
“In the result, the total tally is 373 petitions from 10 districts around the country which registered several complaints. On Monday (tomorrow), we shall ask respondents whose results are challenged to respond to the accusations within three days which will elapse on Thursday,”Kihiika said.
The NRM director in charge of legal affairs explained that a tram of 14 lawyers has been put in place to look into the petitions before they are disposed of.
“Each of the lawyers will be holding a hearing where each party will present its case. The lawyers will then make recommendations to the electoral commission which will make a final decision on whether to cancel the results or carry out a fresh tallying process,”Kihiika said.
President Museveni recently said a panel of elders in will be set up in every region where complaints will be lodged by aggrieved party members to help solve issues arising out of the primaries.
“My advice is that we should set up panels of elders per zone. As NRM members you don’t have to riot or quarrel, just write a petition and send it to the panel,” Museveni said.
The ruling party director in charge of legal affairs on Sunday said some of the petitions will be sent to the panel of elders for resolution of the issues complained about.
“We shall work with these tribunals and where the petition needs to be mediated, we shall pursue this form of dispute resolution so that some of the issues are solved amicably to avoid disagreement within the party,” Kihiika said.
He added that in case the tribunal fails, the petition would then be forwarded to his office for the set of lawyers to handle and then recommend to the electoral commission what to do.
A day to the NRM primaries, President Museveni, who is also the national party chairman, directed that all members who are not in the party register should be registered and allowed to vote.
“Therefore, in the exercise of the powers granted to the chairman under Article 14 of the Constitution, I hereby offer guidance that all members of NRM whose names appear on the register shall be allowed to vote. Any NRM member whose name is not on the party register shall be immediately added to the register and permitted to vote if the person is 18 and above,” Museveni said in a September 2, 2020 letter.
Museveni said village executive committees should verify that the person added onto the register is a member of NRM in that village and that where there are no registers; the village committee shall verify and register all members eligible to vote.
However, following the chaos that manifested the just concluded ruling party elections, a number of candidates, mostly those who lost have since blamed their losses on Museveni’s directive.
A number of them have since petitioned court over the same and the directive is also part of the petitions before the ruling party’s legal directorate challenging the directive by their national chairman.
However, the party’s legal director defended the directive saying it was within the powers of the national party chairman.
“It is well within his powers to issue such guidelines and there was no law broken. However, people chose to misinterpret the guideline that registers were no longer necessary and this caused confusion,” Kihiika said.