A protracted legal battle is unfolding between the ruling National Resistance Movement [NRM] party and its former Secretary General – cum – presidential aspirant Hon Amama Mbabazi.
The party is contesting Mbabazi’s plans to hold consultations with his supporters next month, seeking their view on his candidature first as the Ruling NRM party flag bearer and the Presidential candidate for next year’s general elections.
This, the party holds is in breach of Article 13 of the NRM Party Constitution, which requires any presidential aspirant in the party to be recommended first by the Central Executive Committee [CEC].
NRM Secretary General Mrs Kasule Lumumba has since instructed the Inspector of Police, General Kale Kayihura to block Mbabazi from holding these public meetings as an NRM Presidential aspirant because the party doesn’t recognize him as such.
In the letter dated June 20, Mrs Lumumba was clear to the IGP: “Hon Mbabazi’s notice to the National Electoral Commission that he intends to contest for president as an NRM flag-bearer is not only speculative but also illegal.”
In response, the IGP yesterday penned a letter to Mbabazi, who is currently out of the country, informing him that following his party’s guidance and the legal opinion of the Attorney General, his planned district meetings had been deduced as illegal and would not be permitted.
Today, Wednesday afternoon, Hon Mbabazi’s lawyers of the Fred Muwema and Company Advocates came out to dismiss as “classic misrepresentation of the law” all the grounds on which Mrs Lumumba based to disregard Mbabazi’s aspirations.
While addressing journalists at their offices in Kololo, the legal team led by Mr Fred Muwema stated that they had read the entirety of the NRM Party Constitution from cover to cover and found no clause that bars Mbabazi from meeting his supporters as a presidential aspirant.
Muwema reiterated that Mbabazi has both the party and the national constitutions’ backing to hold consultations with the people, and that Article 13 which Lumumba was referring to, only talks of Presidential candidates and not aspirants.
“When you are aspiring to contest for president, the law says you just announce and then you notify the Electoral commission. The article she is referring to that requires the nomination from the party organs is therefore irrelevant to the presidential aspiration efforts of our client. This [Lumumba’s] letter is out of context, inaccurate, it is a misrepresentation; it is not in touch with the law and should not be relied on,” stated lawyer Muwema.
According to Muwema, Mbabazi at the moment doesn’t need NRM’s sponsorship to be a presidential aspirant, because he is not yet a presidential candidate and neither is he contesting as the party flag bearer.
He further quoted Section 3 of the national Presidential Elections Act, which states that a presidential aspirant needs only to consult and talk to his supporters, who are not necessarily his party members.
“Anybody who supports the aspirant can be consulted. So what Lumumba is saying is offside the position of the law.”
“The constitution says any citizen has the right to offer him/herself for any leadership position in the country, and the same constitution is the Supreme law of the land. It is not subject to the NRM party constitution. In fact the position is that any law or any rule which is contrary to the constitution is null and void.”
Muwema went on to advise the NRM Secretariat and other members therein who are not happy with Mbabazi’s aspirations, if aggrieved and feel they have a case, to go to court.
Following Mbabazi’s letter to the Electoral Commission on June 16, the Chairman Eng Badru Kiguddu wrote back appealing to him, that while he embarks on his citizen consultations, he should desist from anything related to campaigning, because the campaigning dates have not been announced.
The EC’s response which is based on the national constitution is being described as clear green light to Mbabazi to go ahead with his grassroots meetings.