The High Court in Kampala has dismissed a case filed by 22 members of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) who had expressed interest in representing Uganda in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).
They were challenging the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) resolution to endorse/nominate the incumbent (NRM) Representatives to EALA as party candidates flag bearers for the 2022-2027 term of office without holding valid elections.
According to the members, this move was tainted with illegality, irrationality, unreasonableness, procedural impropriety, discriminative of the other aspiring contestants hence null and void.
They also wanted court to compel the NRM electoral commission to nominate the applicants as candidates to NRM Parliamentary Caucus for consideration and election as party flag bearers for EALA positions.
However, NRM filed an affidavit through Oscar John Kihika, Director Legal, challenging the suit.
In his ruling, Justice Musa Sekaaana, said the there is no individual merit in political party politics and the party using its structures can choose a candidate in a political position for strategic reasons and in the best interests of the party and they may refuse to nominate candidates for any position.
“The NRM party has a constitution which sets out the mechanism for resolving electoral disputes. The internal processes must be explored in order to avoid court interference in internal politics…..Such interference should be with caution and circumspection depending on the nature of decision made by a political party,” he noted in his ruling.
Justice Sekaana added that matters relating to nomination of a candidate of a political party are regarded as domestic affairs and are generally treated as not justiciable.
He said that courts have no power to compel a political party to sponsor a candidate outside the thin and limited powers conferred under the Political Parties and Organisations Act.
“The question of nomination of candidates for elective offices from members of a political party is governed by the rules guidelines and constitution of the political party concerned, Therefore it is a question which is not justiciable in a court of law because it is a domestic (that is internal) affair of the party. It is a political question,” he noted.
He said the vetting of candidates was necessary and it is not in the interest of the NRM party to forward the 130 names to Parliament for the election.
“Out of the 63 as stated in paragraph 11 of Oscar Kihika’s affidavit and Dr. Tanga Odoi, the CEC performed it’s duty by vetting and only recommending 6 Contestants and the names are listed. The applicants accepted to take part in the electoral process through the party guidelines which required vetting by Central Executive Committee, they cannot approbate and reprobate by challenging the same system they allowed to be part of at this later stage. It would not be appropriate under judicial review to determine whether the decision of the party-CEC is illegal.”
He ruled that the CEC in exercise of their constitutional mandate or discretion took a decision in the best interests of the party.
Justice Ssekana noted that if the applicants are aggrieved by the decision of CEC and they feel that they cannot politically ‘breathe’, then they are at liberty to leave the party in order to breathe freely.
“The application fails and the preliminary points of law and objections are upheld. The application is dismissed with costs to the respondents. I so order,” he ruled.
The applicants, were represented by Mr. Robert Rutaro Muhairwe and Ms Talibba Tracy whereas the respondents were represented by Mr. Ssebuufu Usaama, Mr. Bazira Anthony and Mr. Achiba Micheal Edwin.