NRM top organ meet agree on Electoral roadmap, party primaries

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By Nasser Kasozi Akandwanaho

ENTEBBE-The Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, which is the top organ of the party leadership, meet and agreed on key issues as preparations for the forthcoming national general elections and party primaries in that order.

The meeting was chaired by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who is the party chairperson, CEC comprises top leaders of the party, including vice chairpersons, the secretary general, and other members of the party’s executive.
Dr Tanga Odoi, the chairperson of the NRM electoral commission, said as the electoral body of NRM part they presented their proposal to CEC on how they intend to handle the primaries to select candidates for Parliament and Local Council elections.

Method of Voting
Dr.Tanga said this time the method of voting as approved by the party in earlier,

”NRM has this term amended its procedures to provide for lining up behind candidates in the primaries instead of the secret ballot method that they used before”.Tanga said.

The change was occasioned by the need to cut costs given the number of candidates that contest for the ruling party’s primaries, and the fact that they happen countrywide.

This change in the party’s constitution, however, was carried out before the Covid-19 outbreak, and it remains to be seen how the party will respond in light of the social distancing measures that are currently in force.
Previous NRM primaries have been riddled with violence and there is concern on how such will be avoided in line with the extreme social distancing measures that are currently in force.

Lining up behind candidates would mean all candidates and voters must be present at the polling station at the same time, meaning social distancing would be more difficult to realise than if the elections were to be by secret ballot.
A source said this is one of the key issues to be discussed by CEC.

But CEC is unlikely to encounter a problem on how the party’s flag bearer for the presidency will be picked.
In February 2019, during a five-day retreat at Chobe Safari Lodge in Nwoya District, CEC resolved to have President Museveni “continue as leader of the party and country beyond 2021”.

The resolution in this regard reads: “… emphatically recommend to the membership of the Movement and its organs, that His Excellency Yoweri K. Museveni, our leader and General of the African Resistance, continues leading the Movement and State in 2021 and beyond – as we eliminate the bottlenecks to transformation.”
It was at the same retreat where the party’s constitution was changed to provide for lining up behind candidates, among other resolutions.

What also remains unclear, but will be resolved by CEC, according to sources, is whether the party will have a national conference ahead of national campaigns. President Museveni has been outspoken against any form of meetings as the country still faces the dangers of Covid-19, and the NRM conference draws thousands of participants from across the country.

Many participants come from the 40 border districts, which are still under lockdown, with movement to and from them restricted, meaning if the national conference were to happen soon, they would not be represented.

The national conference is the supreme decision making body of the party, and is required to approve key decisions, including choice of presidential flag bearer.

EC 2021 Roadmap, Campaigns and Rallies
The national Electoral Commission this week released a revised roadmap, indicating that the election will be held in observance of social distancing measures, hence barring rallies and advising use of media to reach out to the voters.

Opposition players have spoken out against the proposal, but the ruling party has welcomed it.

The Electoral Commission disclosed that as they planned for this change, they consulted with President Museveni and the Ministry of Health.

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