Uganda: Lawyers Warn Against ‘Illegally’ Extending Local Council Terms

Lawyers have warned that a presidential directive for Local Councils to continue operating after expiry of their mandate could lead to legal challenges down the line.

President Museveni recently directed Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja to come up with guidelines for local councils to continue to work without leaving a power vacuum.

Lawyers, however, warn that there is no law that provides for such an extension.

Election of the new leaders hangs in the balance after the Ministry of Local Government failed to obtain the Shs 60 billion required by the Electoral Commission to conduct elections.

The EC had submitted a request in April for Shs60.8 billion to conduct elections for Local Council 1 and 2 officials, whose terms expired on July 10, 2023.

The request remains unmet by the Finance ministry.

The cost of running women council elections which should have been held in August 2022 was suspended due to lack of funds, rendering the councils nonexistent.

Simon Peter Kinobe says once an elective term ends, elections must be organised for the electorates to get new leaders as per the law.

“We stand the risk of having bearers of offices occupy them illegally, but not only occupy them illegally but continue to perform the tasks they have been performing illegally. The challenge with this is you stand a risk of having some of the tasks and decisions challenged successfully in court for being exercised without the due authority,” says Kinobe.

He adds that once leaders continue to serve, the decisions can be challenged in the courts of law. He therefore advises the team to put that into considerations as they develop guidelines as tasked by the president.

Perry Aritua, the Executive Director Women’s Democracy Network, Uganda Chapter suggests that if the country does not have money to spend on these elections, the mode of electing these leaders can be changed and instead adults in every village sit and agree on who is suitable to lead a particular village.

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