In Niwabine Jossy & 22 others vs NRM and NRM Electoral Miscellaneous cause No.143 of 2022, the High Court in Uganda has ruled against National Resistance Movement (NRM) unsuccessful aspirants for the position of members of Parliament in the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). The Court found that they should have exhausted internal mechanisms instead of opting to first seek a remedy from Court.

An application for judicial review was made before Justice Musa Ssekaana by 23 NRM aspirants for positions in the East African Legislative Assembly. The 23 had been unsuccessful in obtaining party nomination following vetting by NRM’s Central Executive Committee (CEC).  Initially, about 130 NRM members expressed interest for positions at the EALA. 67 of the members withdrew and the CEC considered 63 members. CEC didn’t elect; it vetted and recommended 6 members for the available positions. As a result, the applicants sued the NRM party and NRM Electoral commission jointly under judicial review alleging that CEC endorsing or nominating the incumbents, without holding valid elections, was tainted with illegality, irrationality, unreasonableness, procedural impropriety, and discriminative of other aspiring contestants.

Justice Ssekaana considered the law under section 6(3) of the Political Parties and Organisations Act 2005 that provides for who can be sued in this context, that is “…a political party or organisation registered under this Act shall be a body corporate and shall have perpetual succession and may sue or be sued in its corporate name.” He thus ruled that NRM Electoral commission is not a body corporate and cannot be sued in its name.

In addition, while considering whether the application was competently before the court, the Honorable judge made reference to approbation and reprobation, that is. that the applicants could not approbate and reprobate by challenging the same system they allowed to be part of, at a later stage. Furthermore, the applicants were supposed to exhaust the internal remedies and the internal dispute resolution mechanisms within the NRM Constitution. “The question of nomination of candidates for elective offices from members of a political party is governed by the rules, guidelines and constitution of the political party concerned” emphasised the Honorable Judge.

This ruling is a great contribution as it expounds on how to deal with political party matters. It is quite directory on how aggrieved aspirants of any political party should exhaust internal mechanisms in the quest for justice.

The law firm of Byenkya, Kihika & Co. Advocates was proud to be part of the team of law firms that represented the respondents in this matter.


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