Kampala- The National Resistance Movement (NRM) is set for melodrama as former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi insists he is still the legally recognised secretary general (SG) of the party and will report for duty come January 1.
Mr Mbabazi argues that the party’s Central Executive Committee recent nomination of Ms Justine Kasule Lumumba as SG and Mr Richard Todwong as her deputy, does not affect his tenure and he is determined to serve the party until his five-year term expires in July 2015.
NRM’s National Executive Committee is expected to approve the nomination of the new office bearers alongside Ms Rose Namayanja and Kaberamaido County MP Kenneth Omona as treasurer and deputy treasurer respectively on January 8.
Speaking to Sunday Monitor through his lawyers yesterday, Mr Mbabazi said he was, “elected for a specific term of office whose expiry, unless and until that term expires, the new changes do not affect him because the constitution bars retrospective application of the law.”
Mr Severino Twinobusingye, speaking to our reporter under Mr Mbabazi’s strict instructions, said, “the amendments only apply to future leaders of the party. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that he will return to office and serve till his five years expire.”
Asked how his client perceives this hard-line stance in light of the party’s appointment of new office bearers and the chaos it portends, Mr Twinobusingye said: “Those who created the confusion know how to deal with it because that confusion is not permitted by the law.”
Mr John Mary Mugisha, another of Mr Mbabazi’ lawyers, declined to comment on the matter, saying, “I am not free commenting on that issue because it is sub judice. It is before court.”
On Wednesday this week, Mr Benjamin Alipanga, 46, a student of Psychology and Education Sciences at Kent University, applied for an interim order of stay asking the Constitutional Court to halt the appointment of the new office bearers and restore Mr Mbabazi to office.
Sources close to the embattled ex premier intimated to this newspaper that Mr Alipanga is acting as Mr Mbabazi’s proxy in the case.
The four law firms representing the petitioner are the same entities that wrote to the Director of Public Prosecutions and police chief Gen Kale Kayihura recently asking the two to furnish them with details of Mr Mbabazi’s rumoured arrest and prosecution over alleged money laundering.
Mbabazi’s firm stand
When Sunday Monitor reached the Kinkizi West MP for a comment on Saturday, he asked our reporter to go ahead with the story and remarked, “No comment” to all questions. Specifically asked if he was concerned by the likely chaos if he reported for duty on January 1, he said, “No comment.”
While addressing Christians at Karebeizi Church of Uganda in Nyakinoni Sub-county, Kanungu District where he attended Christmas prayers with his family, Mr Mbabazi is quoted to have said, “This is not the time to talk about politics but very soon, I will announce my next political move, which I believe will be news to everyone,”
When contacted on the matter, NRM spokesperson Mary Karooro Okurut, said: “Don’t worry, our legal team will handle that one. That is a legal question which the lawyers will handle.”
Asked what the party will do if Mr Mbabazi reports for duty at the end of his “leave”, she said, “We shall cross the bridge when we reach there.”
We could not reach the new office bearers by press time for a comment as repeated calls to their known mobile telephones went unanswered.
Mr Twinobusingye, however, said there is nothing surprising about his client’s move, saying, “His letter was publicised. He said he was taking leave till December 31 and he has not issued any communication to the contrary so he will report for duty when his leave expires.”
On October 20, 2014, Mr Mbabazi wrote to President Museveni, the party chairman, “As you are aware, I have been performing the duties of Secretary General of NRM without a break for the last nine years. I wish now to take leave of absence from duty from October 20, 2014 until December 31,” reads the letter in part.
When Sunday Monitor contacted Mr Caleb Alaka, a constitutional law expert for an independent comment, he observed that Mr Mbabazi and his legal team are reading the wrong pages of the law, arguing that the matter should be left to the courts.
“A new SG has been appointed so the status quo has changed, unless court declares that change illegal, she (Lumumba) remains the SG. Legally, they may have a point but factually, that is not the case,” he said, adding, “What they are doing is contemptuous because the constitution was amended by the national conference and new office bearers were appointed. So they should leave court to pronounce itself.”
Mr Alaka added: “It is like somebody occupying your land illegally you cannot say he is not there, you seek court’s intervention. We are talking about politics here and there is a way politics and the law intersect. You cannot force yourself on a position. Let Mbabazi wait for court to declare that he is still the SG.”
SOURCE: Daily Monitor