Court: MPs free to stand on different party tickets

Kampala. A Member of Parliament who crosses to another party cannot be blocked from being nominated for re-election to the next Parliament, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Court held that the punishment of automatic loss of seats in Parliament for MPs who cross from one party to another is enough and so they need not to be blocked from seeking re-election.

“It (law) does not prevent offending MPs from contesting in an election to regain his or her seat in Parliament, if he or she wishes on that other than party’s ticket or as an independent. This reflects the spirit of the Article (83(1)(g)(h) of the Constitution and intention of its framers. There is neither unfair situation nor absurdity in the article as can be discerned from the words used,” Justice Galdino Okello held in a unanimous judgment.

Other judges were Bart Katureebe, Christine Kitumba, Jotham Tumwesigye, Benjamin Odoki, John Tsekooko and Esther Kisaakye. The judges’ unanimous decision that faulted the Constitutional Court for nullifying the nomination of former West Budama MP William Oketcho in February 2011 said it was an error to hold that “Change of political party allegiance as a ground to invalidate nomination”.

The court decision arises out of an appeal by the Attorney General challenging the judgment of the Constitutional Court in which it was held that the act of Mr Oketcho to stand in the NRM party primary elections yet he was an independent in Parliament contravened the laws.

The court also declared that Mr Oketcho’s continued sitting in Parliament as an independent MP while having joined NRM and contested in the said primary elections is inconsistent with the Constitution.However, Justice Okello, said the right to associate is a matter of an individual’s choice, which Mr Oketcho made when he offered himself for nomination as flag bearer of NRM party.

“…I find the holding of the Constitutional Court that nomination of Oketcho for election to the next Parliament was invalid, was with respect contradictory,” held Justice Okello.

NRM Mps’ fateOn February 21, the Constitutional Court ordered MPs Mr Theodore Sekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Mr Muhammed Nsereko (Kampala Central), Mr Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East) and Mr Barnabas Tinkasiimire (Buyaga County) out of Parliament and declared their seats vacant. However, this new ruling could see the MPs retain their seats by contesting on different party tickets.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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