National News Politics

Party Leaders to pick 2021 Polls Flag Bearers

The government has presented to parliament political regulations that will guide political party leaders as they select party flag bearers for 2021 polls

The government has presented to parliament a raft of new political parties and organisations regulations that will empower the political party leaders, other than members, select the flag bearers for their respective political parties in the polls.

According to the new regulations tabled before the house yesterday by justice minister prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, political parties have also been empowered to elect their flag bearers through virtual meetings, resolution by circulation, and secret ballot.

The regulations empower the political party executive committees lawful, notwithstanding the fact that the party constitution provides otherwise.

The regulations were tabled before the house for consideration and approval.

This move is in response to an argument raised against the decision by Electoral Commission to issue revised polls roadmap at a time political gatherings are prohibited under the COVID-19 control measures.

Rule 2, sub-rule (h) of the new rules provides election by an organ of a political party or organisation, other than that designated by the constitution of the political or organisation, whose membership of a number that can lawfully convene without contravening the provisions of the Public Health Act and the rules made under there for the control of the infectious diseases.

Rule 2 of the new regulations states that in accordance with section 10 of the Act, and notwithstanding any provision of the constitution of a political party or organisation, a political may, where acting in accordance with its constitution would contravene the provisions of the Public Health Act and the rules made under their for the control of infectious diseases, hold a meeting or an election for the members of its executive committee, members of its organ or sponsored candidates by means including, election by an organ of the political party or organisation.

Other elective means by the parties, according to the new rules, are open ballot, lining up behind the candidate of choice and any combination of the means or any other method of meeting or conducting an election approved by the Electoral Commission.

Democratic principles

However reacting to the new regulations, Asumani Baslirwa (Bugiri municipality), the chairperson of the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) council, said the new regulations contravene some aspects of the constitution and the Political Parties and Organisations Act.

According to Basalirwa, the regulations are also against democratic principles that empower political party members to exercise their electoral rights.

“Rule five is against the democratic principles of the Constitution commands us to follow because they must promote inclusiveness and people participation. An attempt to exclude membership of a party from such processes can only be described as undemocratic and should be condemned,” Basalirwa noted. To study the regulations further, the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has forwarded the new rules to Parliament`s committee on legal and parliamentary affairs, which will then report back to the House for their consideration.

Term of office

Under the new regulations the political parties are also empowered to extend the term of office of elected members of organs of the political party or organisation.

“This shall be for a period not exceeding six months from the date of lifting the restrictions or other measures imposed by the Public Health Act and the rules made there under for the control of infectious diseases,” reads the regulations.

According to rule 4,of the regulations, subject to section lo(3) of the Political Parties and Organisations  Act, the executive committee of a political party or organisation may extend the term of office of elected members of organs of political party or organisation other than the term of executive committee, where it is not practical to hold elections for the membership of such organs as a result of the restrictions or other measures imposed by the Public Health Act or rules made there under for the control of infectious diseases.

According to the new regulations, an election held under these regulations shall be considered valid as if it has been held at a duly convened meeting, convention or conference organized by a political party or organisation under its political party constitution.

Applicability of the new rule

Minister Kamuntu said the regulations will apply to a political party or organisation that intends to conduct a meeting or elections during a period when public health restrictions are in existence.

The regulations are intended to safeguard the health of participants in activities organized by a political party or organisation.

They are also to enable a political party or organisation to elect leaders and sponsor candidates for nomination for general elections without compromising the health and safety of its members or the public.

The regulations are to enable the election and sponsorship of candidates for nomination for general elections within the limitations imposed by the Public Health Act and the rules made there under, relating to public health restrictions or measures.                  

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