The leading opposition political party – the National Unity Platform may consider abstaining from actively participating in the forthcoming elections to choose Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly because of NRM’s tight grip on the electoral process.
Although the decision is yet to be reached, all signs are pointing towards that possibility, because of what NUP Secretary General David Lewis Lubongoya described at the ruling NRM party’s desire to monopolize the exercise by picking all the nine choices to the regional assembly.
In a special interview with this newspaper, Rubongoya expressed his party’s frustration with the government for refusing to make amendments to the laws through which Parliament chooses EALA leaders.
“Our approach initially was to demand that the rules that govern EALA elections change in order for us to participate. As it is, it is NRM that chooses candidates to go to EALA. Using their numerical strength, they select 6 people for themselves, which in our view is irregular. Beyond that, they also choose the 2 for the opposition and then choose one for the independents.”
Rubongoya added: “As you know, NRM does not allow its members to make independent decisions, they sit in their caucus and decide who’s going to go on behalf of DP, FDC and whichever party, which is very problematic in our view.
“The rules are clear. The treaty says that there should be representation of all shades of opinion. And its not just about political affiliation. It’s about gender, youth, political and geographical representation.”
As NUP, through the Leader of the Opposition, we submitted a motion to change the rules but as you know the regime has been reluctant because they view this as another avenue for patronage. They give these EALA slots to whoever they prefer.
“We made this request last year and up to now the government has not responded to it. In my view, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for us to spend a lot of time and resources selecting a candidate who me and you know that unless we negotiate with Museveni, he/she will not have any chance.”
“But we are going to meet with the members and explain for them on the dynamics so that we reach consensus.”
Rubongoya said that whereas NRM is entitled to only six out of the nine positions that Uganda chooses MPs for in EALA, they party uses its numerical strength in Parliament to select whom they want from other parties.