NRM rules out holding party primaries through electoral colleges

Dr Tanga Odoi
Dr Tanga Odoi, the chairperson of NRM Electoral Commission

Kampala, Uganda | URN | The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party Electoral Commission has ruled out holding party primaries through electoral colleges.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday 9, Dr Tanga Odoi, the chairperson of the party’s Electoral Commission said not withstanding what is taking place in parliament, the party is going elect their flag bearers in the same way that they have been electing them in recent elections.

MPs are currently debating the guidelines recently presented by the Justice and Constitutional Affair’s minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu on how political parties can hold party primaries without necessarily gathering people in compliance with the ministry of health guidelines on the spread of COVID-19.

The NRM used to hold party primaries using electoral colleges but this system was abandoned in 2015 due to numerous complaints of cheating and manipulation of voters.

Odoi said that on Sunday, the Central Executive Committee [CEC] of the party is going to review the NRM electoral roadmap and on Monday he will communicate it to the public.

“The Commission has since December 2018, tabled before CEC, the NRM draft roadmaps and regulations for conducting all internal elections. The Commission therefore calls upon the entire NRM fraternity to patiently wait for the official release,” Odoi said.

CEC has five times sat and failed to agree on the party electoral roadmap. The contention was how to balance between having a credible election without bleaching guidelines set out by the ministry of health on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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Some members of the all-powerful CEC headed by President Museveni, the party chairman, were suggesting that the party ditches the constitutional amendments passed by the delegates’ conference early this year that changed the mode of voting from the secret ballot to lining behind candidates.

They argued that it would be very hard to have people line behind candidates and observe social distancing rules. This prompted some CEC members to propose that the party not only does away with lining behind candidates but also ditch universal suffrage where every party member has a right to choose a candidate to hold the party’s card in the general elections.

Some CEC members according to information from those knowledgeable about the discussion also proposed that the elections be postponed until such a time when the coronavirus is no longer a threat. But the majority of the members flatly rejected this proposal which is also supported by some opposition politician.

Speaking at the same press conference, Odoi said the proposal of postponing an election is unrealistic.