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By Mulengera Reporter

Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Uganda’s largest opposition political party, has punched holes into proposed regulations for the 2021 elections as presented by Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Prof Ephraim Kamuntu.

Last week, Minister Kamuntu tabled the Political Parties and Organisations (Conduct of Meetings and Elections) Regulations 2020 in which government proposed that political organisations change their rules on choosing flag bearers since most of them use party primaries (involving mass gatherings) to identify candidates. Government seeks to limit meetings, arguing that any form of gathering can easily spread Covid19.

Some of the proposals for choosing of party candidates include virtual meetings, resolutions by circulation, phased elections, Electoral College and regulated physical meeting of a few party officials. Government also wants parties to extend the tenure of their top organs so these structures can pick flag bearers.

However, FDC Spokesperson Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda has urged MPs to reject the regulations, further stressing that “even if they are passed by Parliament, the FDC shall not abide by these regulations which are unconstitutional.” He further told President Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Movement (NRM) to look for ways of handling their internal issues since they changed their voting method and are now stuck because they can’t gather – and are reportedly proposing measures to deal with the tricky situation.

“We have been informed that these regulations are solely to benefit the National Resistance Movement (NRM) which manipulated its Constitution recently to provide for lining up behind candidates and are now stuck because of Covid. The NRM wants to return to Electoral College and secret ballot which they selfishly removed from their constitution. Let them carry their cross alone,” said Ssemujju, also the Kira Municipality MP, on Monday.

Describing the decision to hold elections on the dates announced by the Electoral Commission (EC) in the face of the Covid19 pandemic as “a big risk,” the FDC publicist reiterated calls for free and fair elections as envisaged by makers of electoral laws.

“But if as a country we choose to do so, these elections must be transparent as commanded by the Constitution. The Constitution provides for only normal elections where candidates freely interact with the electorate,” he noted.  “Any attempt to modify these elections will be unlawful. We have made this point clear to the Electoral Commission. Extension of the term of the President and Parliament as is being suggested in some quarters cannot happen because it is not supported by the Constitution. The FDC rejects digital campaigns because they compromise the quality of elections.”

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