Parliament sets date for EALA polls as Rwandarugali leads race for independents

Lawyer Phiona Rwandarugali impressed NRM National Chairman and President of Uganda Gen Yoweri Museveni (PHOTO /Courtesy)

Parliament has set September 29, as the date for the election of Uganda’s representatives to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA).

The clerk of Parliament, Adolf Mwesige, said: “Campaigns and voting for all candidates duly verified and approved to the House shall be conducted in Parliament on Thursday, September 9, starting at 10:00 am.” He said contenders should pick nomination forms from the clerk’s office from August 1.

Nominations for candidates, Mwesige added, will be done on September 19-20.

“Nominations shall be conducted from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the Parliament Conference Hall in the Parliamentary Building,” he said, adding that every candidate shall pay a nomination fee of sh3m.

The current term for EALA legislators expires on December 17. Within various political parties, the competition for EALA has gained momentum.

The central executive committee of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) has already endorsed the current EALA legislators for another term, a decision that has been contested in court by a section of party members.

The incumbents that the NRM’s central executive committee endorsed and recommended to the party’s parliamentary caucus for consideration are Mary Mugyenyi, Rose Akol, Stephen George Odongo, Denis Namara, James Kakooza, and Paul Musamali Mwasa.

The NRM central executive committee received and reviewed up to 130 contestants who had expressed interest to be seconded by the party for EALA. For NRM, the party’s parliamentary caucus always determines the representation by consensus.

During the endorsement session of the NRM incumbents, President also endorsed Counsel Phiona Rwandarugali, an independent candidate to the party top organ citing her abilities and qualifications.

The President who personally interviewed Counsel Rwandarugali during an NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) meeting on weekend praised the youthful EALA aspirant for her unique abilities, attributes and ideas for the region.

A source who attended the Friday meeting at State House Entebbe told UG Standard that the President allowed Rwandarugali to address him for over 20 minutes using Swahili, a critical language that was adopted by cabinet last week.

The source added that President Museveni who later interpreted her lengthy Swahili chat with Rwandarugali to other CEC members asked the party to back her.

“This Swahili girl (Rwandarugali) has impressed me with her understanding of the region’s critical problems and the solutions she’s offering,” the President is said to have told CEC members—requesting them to back.

The President is also said to have told CEC that the NRM which has the majority Members of Parliament has powers on independents and that Rwandarugali needs to be considered.

Counsel Rwandarugali whose agenda is hinged on regional integration including the much sought-after Customs Union, the Common Market, and the Monetary Union, focusing on compliance among East African Community (EAC) the Member States regarding regional policies says that as Uganda’s representative in Arusha, Tanzania she would ensure that the country negotiates and ensures that the region federates politically and that member states also comply with regional policies.

An elated Museveni who was also impressed by Counsel Rwandarugali’s personal story and, qualifications and other abilities is said to have endorsed her to other CEC members and said he would personally follow up her candidature.

On the other hand, the National Unity Platform (NUP) said over the weekend it would not front any candidate in the EALA elections. There are nine slots up for grabs.

The NRM, which commands a majority of numbers in Parliament, takes six slots and leaves the other three for opposition and independents.

The secretary general of the Democratic Party, Dr. Gerald Siranda; the deputy secretary general of the Forum for Democratic Change, Harold Kaija, and Uganda People’s Congress party stalwart Fred Ebil, among others, are already canvassing for support within Parliament.

Unlike other elections, Article 50 of the EAC treaty commands that EALA members be elected by their respective country’s national assembly. Article 50 also requires the representatives to reflect their country’s political parties, opinions, gender composition, and other special groups.

EALA is an organ of the East African Community (EAC), a regional bloc comprising Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and DR Congo. The regional parliament was established under Article 9 of the EAC Treaty. Each EAC member state sends nine MPs to the regional parliament.

The EAC treaty notes that EALA’s top role is to make laws for the governance of the seven-member states of the regional bloc.


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