The ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM party has opposed
calls by different political players for government to declare a State of
Emergency because of theCovid19 pandemic, which would result in the
postponement of the 2021 general polls.
The Party officials led by the Secretary General Justine
Kasule Lumumba were appearing before the legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Committee. The Committee is collecting views on the revised
election road map and proposed political party regulations.
However, over the past few days different political players
have called on government to declare a State of Emergency and postponement the
2021 polls in order to allow them participate in a traditional election that
would allow them hold campaign rallies as opposed to the virtual campaigns as proposed
by the Election Commission (EC).
A state of emergency is where government suspends normal
constitutional procedures to regain control. It is usually declared
during national disasters, war and civil unrest, a pandemic or epidemic among
Responding to questions by legislators in regard to the failure
by government to declare a State of Emergency, NRM’s Legal Director Oscar
Kihika, said President,Yoweri Museveni isn’t satisfied that the current
Covid-19 circumstances require a declaration of State of Emergency provided for
under Article 110 of the Constitution.
“Clearly as things stand, the President is not satisfied.
This Article expressly provides that the President must be satisfied before he
declares a State of Emergency. Now, obviously the declaration of a State of
Emergency is not a simple matter because most of the arguments that we have
heard is that there should be a State of Emergency and what follows thereafter
is a postponement of the election. That decision is a very serious one because
you are pulling the power of people of selecting their leaders away from the
people. I believe that His Excellency doesn’t take this matter very lightly,”
Kihika also said that he thinks that the President is
satisfied that under the current circumstances, enough measures have been taken
to ensure that there is no need to declare a State of Emergency.
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The lawyer further explained that declaration of a State of
Emergency brings in serious consequences relating to civil liberties and can
lead to abuse of power.
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Kihika also noted that in case of a State of Emergency,
Uganda has an existing law on emergencies passed in 1968...The Emergency Power
“It gives a lot of powers to the Minister of Internal Affairs
to pass all manner of statutory instruments which would actually give him
powers to arrest people without due process under the excuse of trying
the maintain emergencies. Actually when you read that Act now, there might be
certain aspects that are probably inconsistent with our current Constitution,”
He however said that up until the declaration is made, the
powers that would be concentrated in a couple of people are frightening especially
if one is not sure that the person is governing the country in the best
interest of the population.
However, Masaka Municipality MP, Mathias Mpuuga said that
circumstances that led to a declaration of a State of Emergency in 1966 are
totally different from the current circumstances.
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NRM lawyer, Kiryowa Kiwanuka also weighed, saying that the
mode of election activities always keep changing, arguing that changes in an
electoral process does not mean that the election is abnormal.
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His statement followed a submission by NRM Party Secretary
General, Justine Kasule Lumumba who said that there should be an election come
2021 since it is government’s responsibility to make sure that Ugandans
exercise their right to vote as per the Constitution.
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Lumumba however said that political parties should be funded
to cater for the implications posed by the revised election road map.