THE Electoral Commission has been dragged to court for purportedly changing the name of Social Democratic Party to Party of National Unity without approval of its members
By Andante Okanya and Farooq Kasule
THE Electoral Commission (EC) has been dragged to court for purportedly changing the name of Social Democratic Party (SDP) to Party of National Unity (PNU) without approval of its members.
On October 15, a group of four members of the party petitioned the civil division of the High Court in Kampala, accusing the EC of failing to verify whether the name change had been endorsed.
The petitioners are Asea Azuma, Fred Kavuma, Ahmed Sserunjogi and Harriet Namujju.
The petition is supported by the affidavit of Lugazi Town Council Mayor Asea, who states that he is a founding member of the party. He claims to be acquainted with the party activities.
Two senior members of the party Michael Mabikke and Henry Lubowa, are listed as co-respondents alongside EC.
Through R.M Ruhinda Advocates and Solicitors, the petitioners are seeking a court pronouncement that the name change was illegal, and that EC was at fault in the debacle.
"A declaration that the third respondent (EC) failed and or neglected to carry out its duty of due diligence in regard to the change of the party name," the petition reads in part.
The petitioners assert that at the party's national council meeting held last year on September 11, the only item on the agenda was whether SDP should form a political alliance with another political party.
The meeting was purportedly held at the Youth Sharing hall in Nsambya. The claim that although the push for an alliance was disallowed, Mabikke and Lubowa acted contrary.
"The first (Mabikke) and second (Lubowa) respondents clandestinely and without following the basic principles of democratic governance, unconstitutionally and arbitrarily amended the party's constitution by inserting a new name (that is to say Party for National Unity) in pursuance of their own idiosyncratic endeavours," the petitioners lament.
They want court to compel EC to strike out the name PNU, and revert to the approved name of SDP.
Additionally, the petitioners are demanding to be paid damages, arguing that they failed to follow both the national constitution and SDP constitution.
On Monday, EC lawyer Eric Sabiiti confirmed to New Vision that the legal department had received the petition and would respond appropriately.
"I am studying the petition. We are required to respond as per the law and we will definitely do so," Sabiiti stated.
Mabikke and Lubowa were not readily available for comment. Former Vice-President Prof. Gilbert Bukenya was recently reported to have agreed to work with SDP.
SDP drags EC to court over name change