The Constitutional court has refused to halt the nomination of Members of Parliament slated for today (Wednesday).
Justice Remmy Kasule yesterday declined to grant the order which had been asked for by two aspiring MPs; Oddi Ouma of Busia, Paul Ssemwanga of Buvuma and Ssemusu Mugobansonga of the Conservative party who are challenging the recently increased nomination fees.
“The interim order sought is to put a halt to the whole presidential and Parliamentary elections. As regards the Presidential elections, the candidates have already paid the fees, nominated and are already making campaigns. As for the Parliamentary elections, the nominations are for tomorrow barely a day to this ruling. This court holds, therefore, that the ends of justice are better attained by not granting an interim order,” Justice Kasule ruled.
He said the three applicants can pursue their petition during and after the petition and in the event that they succeed in their main petition, the constitutional court will give relevant directions and award appropriate reliefs.
Through their lawyers; Ladislus Rwakafuuzi, Frederick Ssemwanga and Isaac Kimaze Sssemakadde, the three asked asserted that the increased nomination fees for MP (Shs3m) and for president Shs20m were passed illegally in contravention of the constitution.
“The passing of Parliamentary Elections’ Amendment Act 15 of 2015 (containing the Shs3m nomination fees) contravenes article 80 of the Constitution which stipulates qualifications of members of Parliament. This article does not mention any fee for one to be elected a Member of Parliament,” SSemwanga stated.
He said by passing the new nomination fees, Parliament purported to amend this article using unconstitutional means since for any article to be amended in the constitution, Parliament has to first pass a constitutional amendment act which wasn’t done in respect of this amendment.
“We are also saying the previous nomination fees of 20 currency points were also unconstitutional, because to be a leader one does not need to be a millionaire. That amounts to discrimination,” he said.
He said they represent a constituency of youths who have just graduated from universities, but would like to become leaders and asking them to pay Shs3m as nomination fees amount to discriminating against them.
On his part, Kimaze said this exorbitant nomination fees curtails Ugandans’ freedom of expression enshrined under article 90(1) of the constitution.
“One to picking a nomination form is expressing his intention to contest so it is not permissible for one to be charged Shs3m for expressing himself,” he said.
He further reasoned that the law also curtails freedom of association because for one to be nominated he is seeking people to associate with him and vote him so it is no permissible to charge a person exercising his freedom of association.
He said they are also seeking to the Constitutional Court interpretation on whether parliament did not exceed its powers given to it under article 79 of the constitution.