New Cities Start As War over Leadership Rages On

Jinja – The rift between district chairpersons and mayors over who should take over the interim leadership of the new cities has escalated as they
officially start today, Wednesday.

The announcement by government early this year that the seven municipalities which attained city status will be effective Wednesday, July 1 sternly caused a stir as mayors argue that the commencement of the new cities should be stayed until after the next general elections so as to avoid a power vacuum.

In a new twist, Municipal mayors have asked the High Court to block the move, arguing that there is no law governing them. Jinja, Arua, Gulu, Fort Portal, Mbarara Mbale and Masaka municipalities are set to become cities effective July 1.

“The transitional city division councils shall constitute the current Municipal Division Chairpersons, municipal division councillors, Sub County chairpersons and Sub County/Town council councillors as the case may be. In other words, LCIII chairpersons and councillors,” reads part of the petition.

The mayors under their umbrella body, the Urban Authorities Association of Uganda (UAAU) in their High Court petition, say the operationalisation of the newly created cities is not backed by any law, which might create a leadership crisis.

In the main application, the mayors want a declaration that the Urban Authorities Association members have a right to complete their terms of office.

On June 10, District chairpersons from the elevated municipalities also wrote to the Minister opposing the proposal by the mayors arguing that cities are an equivalent of a district, and as such, they are legally mandated to take over the transitional leadership.

Mayors noted that they might lose their respective elected positions if an injunction is not granted. Justice Musa Ssekaana has fixed July 3, for the hearing of the application.

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