Independent candidates should be struck out in the coming polls, opposition political parties have recommended. The Opposition is also against the creation of the position for ‘dean of independents’ in Parliament, arguing that such a post had no basis in a multiparty democracy.
According to the Constitution Amendment Bill 2019 before Parliament, tabled by Busiro East MP Medard Sseggona, the Bill seeks to introduce a position of dean of independents in Parliament with a five-year tenure. Of the 433 MPs of the 10th Parliament, NRM enjoys a numerical strength of 302 followed by 67 independents, Forum for Democratic Change (36), Democratic Party (17), Uganda People’s Congress (7) and JEEMA (1).
The Conservative Party deputy secretary general, Alfred Kasozi, said independent candidates were always aggrieved and undisciplined members of the party who should not be allowed to contest after losing at party primaries. Kasozi was speaking yesterday during a meeting convened by the Electoral Commission (EC) and National Consultative Forum for Political Parties on the Bill at Bugolobi Royal Suites in Kampala.
Saddam Bisase, the chairperson of the Congress Service Volunteers party, was in agreement with regulation of independents. Erias Wamala of the National Peasants Party said:
“In most cases, independents are defeated at their party primaries and decide to contest as independents. When they reach Parliament, they sign a memorandum of understanding with the ruling party. I recommend the scrapping of independents.”
With a number of submissions in favor of scrapping independents, the EC secretary, Sam Rwakoojo, reminded the party officials that the right to contest as an independent was enshrined in the Constitution of Uganda. He said if the Opposition wanted independents out of elective politics, they should push amendment of the Constitution.
Asuman Odaka of JEEMA said:
“When we fail to organize free and fair party primary elections, we end up creating independents. We cannot discuss an individual’s constitutional right to run as an independent. The Constitution that created political parties is the same that protects independent candidates.”