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Government sets rules for parties on delegates’ conferences


July. 03, 2020

Government has proposed to political parties not to hold delegates conferences that attract big gatherings to make decision, including electing national leaders and presidential flag bearers, as one way of combating the spread of Covid-19.
The Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, yesterday tabled in Parliament a set of regulations to be followed by the political parties while conducting their businesses ahead of the 2021 General Election.
Prof Kamuntu said the objective of the regulations is to safeguard the health of participants in activities organised by a political party or organisation.
Government also wants the regulations to enable political parties or organisations to elect leaders and sponsor candidates for nomination for the General Election within the limitations imposed by the Public Health Act and the Rules made therein for the control of infectious diseases.
Many of the political parties, including the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), have been locked in meetings to decide on the mode of conducting internal processes of identifying candidates for presidential, parliamentary and local governments elections.
Without allowing debate on the regulations, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga referred them to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to scrutinise and report to the House within a week’s time.
“The regulations touch the work of all political parties. You (Committee) are asked to engage all the political parties and report to this House in one week” Ms Kadaga ruled. Government suggests seven ways under which the political parties can hold meetings or conduct internal elections without contravening the provisions of the Public Health Act and rules made therein for the control of infectious diseases.
These are holding virtual meetings via the platforms like teleconferencing and Zoom platform; making resolutions by circulation which means writing to members who are not physically located together who will take a vote on major decisions by signing if in assent or dissent; holding elections in phased manner; electing by secret ballot; use of open ballot; and, members lining up behind the candidate of choice.
Other are electing leaders and candidates by an electoral college comprising members of an organ of the political party or organisation; and elections being carried out by organ other than that designated by the party Constitution to elect leaders and candidates. The government argues that instead of risking the lives of the members, the parties can disregard their Constitutions by giving power to the executive committee to employ any of the seven suggested ways to conduct meetings or elections.
“Notwithstanding any provision in the Constitution of a political party or organisation, the Executive Committee shall have the power to employ the method of election or meeting in sub-regulation (2) that allows the holding of the election or meeting without contravening the provisions of the Public Health Act and the rules made thereunder for the control of infectious diseases” reads part of the document tabled by the minister.
The government is also suggesting that the Executive Committee of a political party may extend the term of office of elected members of organs where it is not practical to hold elections in accordance with Section 10 of the recently amended Political Parties and Organisations Act.
The extended term of office shall be for six months from the date of lifting the restrictions or other measures imposed by the Public Health Act.
Prof Kamuntu said the regulations are being made to ensure that elections are held by February 8 in accordance with the law.
MPs speak out The Bushenyi-Ishaka Municipality MP, Mr Gordon Alinda, said: “We need to first look at these regulations before they are enforced so that we see whether the people will participate in the election. These changes will be against democracy in this country if the political parties just jump onto them,” he said. The Agago North County MP, Mr Edward Otto Makmot, who is a member of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, raised concerns over the time allocated to the committee, which is already busy engaging stakeholders on matters to do with the revised electoral roadmap.
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