NRM, 8 others file defence as Obal’s suit await a hearing date

(Last Updated On: 26 March 2024)

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party (1st defendant), Gadaffi Nassur, Domic Mafabi; James Tweheyo and five others, have filed their defence in the High Court of Uganda at Kampala following a civil suit by Obal Daniel.

The plaintiff (Obal), early this month sued the ruling party and her servants for, among other things, holding offices illegally.

In his plaint, the plaintiff argued that NRM is a duly registered political party under the Political Parties and Organizations Act, 2005, with the capacity to sue and be sued in its own name and is the current ruling party in Uganda.

The last part of the plaint was that the plaintiff brought the suit against the defendants jointly and severally for:

A declaration that the 1st defendant owes a duty to the plaintiff as its party member to create an enabling environment for the plaintiff to grow his political career and participate in political activities under the principles of democracy, transparency and good governance.

A declaration that the 2nd defendant (Nassur Gadaffi), by virtue of his current age, is disqualified from continuing to hold the position of chairperson youth league in the 1st defendant’s party.

A declaration that the 1st and 9th defendants’ (Tanga Odoi) omission of failing to conduct elections of the internal structures and special organs in NRM violated the plaintiff’s rights to participate and be elected to join the party’s Central Executive Committee responsible for providing and exercising political leadership in the country.

Also read: NRM Lawyer says party prepared for Obal’s court showdown 

A declaration that the acts of the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th defendants by continuing to occupy the positions they hold on the Central Executive Committee after the expiry of their elective term as chairpersons of their respective organs is contrary to the Law of Uganda and the 1st defendant’s constitution.

In his orders to the High Court, the plaintiff, through Apricus Advocates and Solicitors, wants the court to compel the 2nd defendant to vacate the position of chairperson youth league with immediate effect.

Another order is compelling the defendants to pay special and general damages to the plaintiff for the missed opportunity and political stagnation suffered by the failure of the 1st and 9th defendants.

Also read: Sued NRM CEC member asks Museveni to intervene: faults secretariat leaders 

The plaintiff seeks the court to award the costs of the suit to him.

The plaintiff further avers that representation on the NRM special organs is through elections which are conducted by way of Electoral College systems and the 1st and 9th defendants have to organize these elections.

Two, he avers that the positions for representatives on the 1st defendant’s special organs are elective and once elected; the chairpersons thereby serve for five years. After which their tenure expires awaiting another election to fill the positions.

“In 2015, during the elections for the 1st defendant party’s special organs, the 2nd defendant was announced the winner of the position of national youth league chairperson and the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th defendants were declared winners in their respective positions during the same elections,” the plaintiff recalls.

However, in their written defence drawn and filed by K&K Advocates and dated March 25, 2024, the defendants contend that they still currently hold their offices because of the pandemic and subsequent Statutory Instruments No. 95 of 2020.

Article 5 (1 and 2) of the instruments read: “A political party or organization shall, in the conduct of its internal affairs, in addition to complying with articles 71 and 72 of the Constitution, adhere to the Public Health Act and rules made thereunder for the control of infectious diseases;

(2) In accordance with section 10 of the Act, and notwithstanding any provision in the constitution of a political party or organization, a political party may, where acting in accordance with its constitution would contravene the provisions of the Public Health Act and rules made thereunder for the control of infectious diseases, hold a meeting or an election for members of its executive committee, members of its organs or sponsored candidates by any of the following means: virtual meeting, resolutions by circulation, phased elections, secret ballots, open ballots.

Others are elections by an organ of a political party or organization, other than that designated by the constitution of the political party or organization whose membership is of a member that can lawfully convene without contravening the provisions of the Public Health Act and rules made thereunder for the control of infectious diseases.

In specific response to paragraph 5 of the plaint [the publication has not cited], the defendants say they shall aver and contend that: in 2015, the 2nd to 8th defendants were elected to the 1st defendant’s special organs for a term of five years lapsing in 2020.

In 2020, they aver that the Covid-19 pandemic broke out in Uganda and the Minister of Health issued the Public Health (Covid-19) Rules 2020 banning public meetings including political rallies and conferences which rendered it impossible for political parties and organizations to elect members to their internal structures and special organs as per their respective political party constitutions.

The defendants contend that the NRM lawfully extended their term of office until the health restrictions were lifted because it was not practically possible to hold an election for the special organs of the 1st defendant (NRM).

They said going on with the election would involve a mass gathering of its members contrary to the Public Health Act and rules made.

The High Court has yet to fix a date for the commencement of the suit’s hearing.

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