New seats: EC considers options for late entrants

Wednesday August 12 2020
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Electoral Commission chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama

A civil servant in Kween District had intention to contest for a parliamentary seat in a newly created constituency but his dream has been thwarted by the Electoral Commission (EC) on account that he did not resign his job before July.

Mr Peter Kitty says the Constitution and Parliamentary Elections Act require a civil servant seeking an elective political position to have resigned his public service job at least three months before his party’s primaries. Mr Kitty’s party is NRM whose primaries are ongoing.

He contends that the EC has technically locked him out of the race. He says the new constituencies came into force last month and he could not have resigned his civil service job earlier to contest for a seat, which had not yet been created.

Last month, Parliament approved 47 new constituencies, raising the number of directly elected MPs to 497.
Mr Kitty has withdrawn from the NRM primaries race for Tóo County in Bukwo District.
Justice Simon Byabakama, the EC chairperson, yesterday said the aforementioned scenario was one of the issues they were discussing.

“I am chairing a Commission meeting and one of the issues we are discussing is, what will happen to the civil servants who want to contest in the newly created constituencies and yet they can’t fulfil the requirement of resigning their jobs three months prior since the constituencies were belatedly created,” Justice Byabakama said by telephone yesterday.

“What we are going to do is to engage our legal team and find out if there are any legal remedies for this challenge. They should give us their findings by tomorrow (today),” he added.

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When this newspaper contacted Mr Emmanuel Dombo, the director of communications at the NRM Secretariat about Mr Kitty’s contention, he said they would contact the Attorney General for advice.

“If this arrangement contradicts the Constitution, then it’s null and void. We shall seek the opinion of the Attorney General on the way forward,” Mr Dombo said by telephone yesterday.

Mr Jackson Kafuuzi, the deputy Attorney General, said the existing rules apply to the existing constituencies and not the newly created ones.

“There has to be exceptions because these administration units have just been created. It would be understandable if someone challenged the same before court. But in my personal opinion, this arrangement will not apply to the new administrative units created.” Mr Kafuuzi said.

awesaka@ug.nationmedia.com

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