For four consecutive days, members of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) Central Executive Committee (CEC) met at State House, Entebbe, but failed to agree on how to proceed with the party’s electoral program.
The CEC meeting which kicked off on Saturday, June 20, was expected to approve the program for the party’s primary elections.
While CEC last year resolved to have President Yoweri Museveni as a sole candidate for the NRM presidential flag, the decision has to be ratified by the party’s national delegates’ conference.
How to elect the delegates in light of the existing restrictions intended to curb the spread of Covid-19, caused a heated debate in the marbled walls of the Entebbe State House, with some party leaders pushing for the postponement of the 2021 general elections while others insisted that the elections should go on.
Last year in June, NRM delegates endorsed amendments to their party Constitution which among others discarded the election of party leaders through a secret ballot, and adopted the system of lining up behind candidates.
This, however, is likely to be difficult given the standing presidential directives that ban mass gatherings.
“The guidelines given by health experts are a gathering should not have more than 50 people. The puzzle now is how NRM, which allows all its supporters to participate in the grassroots elections, is going to handle the primaries,” a source said.
In the CEC, the NRM honchos listened to presentations from scientists, lawyers and a team that was asked to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the NRM primary elections.
At the end of the four days, no agreement had been reached that Museveni asked the CEC members to return on Saturday, June 27, to continue with the deliberations.
The disagreements started on June 16, the day the Electoral Commission (EC) chairman, Justice Simon Byabakama, released a new roadmap for the 2021 general elections.
In its new guidelines, the EC banned campaign rallies and advised politicians seeking election to reach their electorates through the mass media and social media.
While the NRM secretariat’s communications and public relations manager, Rogers Mulindwa said that the party is “more than ready” to fit into the EC’s program, the NRM electoral commission chief, Dr. Tanga Odoi disagreed.
Odoi also warned the secretariat against usurping his power, insisting that the management of NRM internal elections is entirely under his docket.
On Wednesday morning, Odoi sent out a message to NRM politicians asking them to wait for the outcome of Saturday’s CEC meeting.
“Hello friends, relatives and all, as NRM EC, we’re yet to release an approved elections roadmap and no one should confuse you with the working draft 5.The burden and puzzle we are faced with is our new paradigm of lining up behind candidates amidst this coronavirus threat. CEC meets again on Saturday to hear the final decision after thorough discussion between our commission, the Scientists and party lawyers. In the circumstances, All intending candidates are advised to wait for the final outcome,” Tanga Odoi stated.