President Yoweri Museveni
Led by Fox Odoi, Jacob Oboth-Oboth and Rosemary Nyakikongoro, NRM leaning independent lawmakers met Museveni on Wednesday at State House Entebbe in what sources reveal was an attempt to explore means of synchronizing NRM?s electoral roadmap with the ongoing process to amend a string of Articles pertaining to elections in Uganda.
?It?s true the meeting took place about NRM?s electoral roadmap vis-?-vis the constitutional amendment. And this is not the first time we are meeting the president over this matter,? Oboth-Oboth told New Vision yesterday.
Although expression of interest by aspirants for parliamentary seats on NRM ticket is closing today ? according to NRM?s electoral roadmap ? NRM leaning independent MPs interested in contesting party primaries in early October cannot pick nomination under the current legal frame work without resigning their seats.
Sources privy to the meeting said Museveni gave independent MPs assurance that ounce parliament approves the necessary constitutional amendments; he will move NRM?s Electoral Commission (EC) to accommodate them beyond the stipulated deadline for picking nominations.
According to Article 83(1)(h) of the 1995 constitution, a lawmaker can lose his/her seat ?if, having been elected to parliament as an independent candidate, that person joins a political party.?
In 2010, a one George Owor successfully moved the Constitutional Court to have then West Budama South MP (an independent MP), William Okecho, booted out of the Ninth Parliament for accepting to contest on NRM ticket in the 2011 polls without first resigning his seat.
The landmark case caused a ripple effect that saw over 70 MPs ordered out of parliament by then Speaker and current Vice President, Edward Ssekandi.
Aware of the Owor case, independent MPs in the Ninth parliament have been more careful on the issue of contesting in NRM primaries, making a case for amendment of the constitution to facilitate their ?return? during the Kyankwazi retreat in February this year.
Among independent MPs who attended that Kyankwazi retreat included Odoi, Oboth-Oboth, Mariam Nalubega, Haruna Kasolo, Cadet Benjamin, Dr. Sam Okuonzi and Kafero Ssekitoleko.
?People become independent because of circumstances beyond their control and should not be imprisoned to stay in that state? Nalubega said in justification of a move to lobby NRM?s top echelon to sanction the necessary constitutional amendments to facilitate Independent MPs? return to NRM.
In its report, the legal and parliamentary affairs committee has recommended that legislators be given the leeway to switch to any political party 12 months to a national election cycle.
With a membership of 43 members, the caucus of independent MPs in the ninth parliament is bigger than that of the largest opposition party in the country, the Forum for Democratic Change with 34 MPs.
Majority of independent MPs are NRM leaning ? a product of the alleged irregularities that marred NRM party primaries that preceded the 2011 polls.
Majority of Independent MPs have a memorandum of understanding with NRM. Both Okuonzi and Odoi are chairing Foreign Affairs Committee and committee on rules and privileges respectively ? committees whose leadership is a preserve of the ruling party.
By Moses Walubiri, The New Vision