Uganda’s Ruling Party Challenged By Ousted Party Official

Uganda’s ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party is facing a legal challenge from former party Secretary-General Amama Mbabazi, who was ousted in a party vote December 15.

The NRM voted to replace him with Justine Kasule Lumumba, who is expected to report for duty January 1.

But Mbabazi, a former prime minister, has gone to court to challenge his removal. His lawyer, Severino Twinobusingye, said his client intends to serve out his full five-year term, which expires in July.

“He was elected for a five-year term of office by the appropriate organ of the party, and he has to serve that term of office for five years until July next year. He is still the secretary-general,” he said.

Twinobusingye said political parties in Uganda are governed by the Political Parties and Organizations Act, which was made pursuant to the provisions of the Ugandan constitution.

He said the constitution precedes the ouster of Mbabazi.

“As a result, these matters are in the Constitutional Court of Uganda, and it is not possible that anybody can stop him (Mbabazi) from coming back to start his duty come first of January 2015. What they did, I think, was an exercise in futility. It is not good for the rule of law,” he said.

Twinobusingye said he’s confident the Constitutional Court will demonstrate its independence by siding with his client.

“I have absolutely 100 percent confidence in the judicial system of Uganda. Our judiciary is independent, and we are 100 percent certain that they will determine this case to its logical conclusion. We do not see it being done any other way,” Twinobusingye said.

Ugandan courts are currently on their Christmas break and are expected resume their duties next month. Twinobusingye hopes the court will expedite Mbabazi’s case.

“What is very important is that constitutional matters under Ugandan jurisprudence take precedence over all other matters of the court. So, whatever matters are pending in the courts have to be suspended. And, it is extremely critical that it is handled and done expeditiously because it affects the rights of everyone in Uganda,” he said.

Twinobusingye said he does not expect confrontation because Ugandans are peaceful and understand what Mbabazi is going through.

He also said President Yoweri Museveni cannot order Mbabazi’s arrest because both men were both elected to serve out their five-year terms of office.

“I don’t think that cannot happen because the president, who is the party chairman, knows that the current secretary general was elected to serve five years. He was elected the same day the party chairman, Yoweri Museveni, was elected. The party chairman is going to serve for five years. The secretary general, who was also elected with him, is also going to serve his term of office for five years,” Twinobusingye said.