Candidate Seeks EC’s Intervention after NUP Declines to Withdraw her from Parliamentary Race

Zaitun Babikola speaks to journalists last month after her nomination

Zaituni Yahaya Babikola, the National Unity Platform (NUP) candidate for the Sembabule Woman MP seat has petitioned Electoral Commission (EC) begging it to withdraw her candidature since her party seems adamant to honour her wish to step down for her rival, Mary Begumisa of the National Resistance Movement (NRM).

In her letter to the EC chairman, Justice Simon Mugenyi Byabakama, Babikola asked the electoral body to intervene in the misunderstanding, in which she accuses the NUP leadership of forcing her into a political contest where she lost interest.

Babikola, who also doubles as the NUP coordinator in Sembabule. On October 30, she wrote to the NUP secretary-general Davis Lewis Rubongoya, informing him of her withdrawal from the parliamentary contest over personal reasons which she did not state.

Sources in Sembabule however say that she reached an agreement with Begumisa for her to withdraw her candidature so that the NRM flagbearer sails through unopposed. Acting on this information, the NUP leadership declined to honour her wish and instead offered to deploy its agents to campaign for her.

Rubongoya indicated that the NUP campaign Management Organ and the Executive Committee declined to approve Babikola’s request to step down from the race on grounds that they were not convinced by the reasons advanced by the applicant.

He said the party organs instead prefer that the candidate continues with the contest as they inquire into her reasons for stepping down and find a solution for them. This hasn’t gone down well with Babikola.

Angered by this decision, Babikola penned a letter to Byabakama calling for the EC’s intervention.

Among the reasons she raised to the EC is the party’s failure to reimburse the money she spent to establish the party structures and coordination committees in the area. She accordingly requested the NUP Secretary-General, David Lewis Rubongoya to formally inform EC to deregister her name, a request that has since been rejected.

Babikola also protested what she described as the deliberate failure by NUP to comply with the laws that require them to give her authorization to quit the race on her request.

She based her arguments on Section 19(1) and (2) of Parliamentary Election Acts 2005, which require a candidate intending to withdraw from the race to have the notice supported by three registered voters from the constituency the candidate was nominated for.

“The purpose of this letter is to request for your assistance and intervention in this matter as to why the secretary-general has failed to comply with the Electoral Laws and seek your further guidance in this matter,” her November 6 letter to the EC reads in part.

However, Sections 10 and 11 of the same law binds candidates sponsored by political parties to decisions of their respective parties that presented them for nomination for election.

Prior to her withdrawal notice to EC, the NUP Mobilization Committee chaired Hajj Muhammad Ssemanda petitioned the party Secretariat on Nov 1st, 2020 complaining about Babikola’s suspicious conduct.

These also demanded that she is investigated for selling out her candidature, allegations she has vehemently denied.

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