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UGANDA: Cabinet drafts new rules for parties.

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A special Cabinet meeting chaired by President Museveni on Tuesday discussed and approved new regulations for the conduct of political parties during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Justice minister Ephraim Kamuntu is expected to table the new draft regulations to Parliament today.

The government regulations seek to regulate the conduct of political parties and align their activities with the Public Health Act.

The draft regulations provide for several options which political parties may adopt in holding party meetings. The guidelines supplant party constitutions and will guide political parties to identify flagbearers ahead of the 2021 General Election.
The new statutory instrument provides for virtual meetings for political parties, use of newspapers to circulate resolutions, phased elections, secret ballot, lining up behind candidates and elections by electoral colleges.

The draft regulations also provide that the executive committee of the political party or organisation shall have the power to extend the term of members of the party’s organs, except the executive committee which is not practicable to hold elections on account of the public health restrictions, extension shall not exceed six months after the lofting of the public health restrictions.

When contacted last evening, Information minister Judith Nabakooba confirmed the Cabinet meeting but declined to provide details.
“We have discussed the matter today [Tuesday] and the Justice minister [was] directed to take the instrument to Parliament because it will clarify the conduct of the different political party business amidst the Covid-19 pandemic,” Ms Nabakooba, who also heads the ICT docket, said.
In Cabinet, the President didn’t comment much on the new guidelines but rejected open rallies and calls for postponement of the elections.
Cabinet sources told Daily Monitor last evening that Mr Museveni, who is also the chairperson of the ruling NRM party, asked the ministers to ensure that all political parties follow guidelines issued by the scientists and Electoral Commission (EC) in order to keep people safe.
“Given the prevailing health situation in the country, it is not safe to hold elections in the usual traditional matter. Protecting the lives of citizens and their property is the first duty of government,” a source quoted Prof Kamuntu as telling Cabinet.

Parliament, in accordance with Section 27 of the Political Parties and Organisations Act, will debate the draft government guidelines and propose new amendments before the lawmakers pass or reject the new regulations.

According to sources, ministers, however, noted that any changes to the party constitutions to accommodate alternative modes of meeting and election is not possible as this would require a meeting of the same conferences that pose a health risk to the members.

Parliament is expected to make appropriate recommendations on this matter.

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