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Court orders AG to file formal response in petition against army MPs in parliament

Constitutional Court judges headed by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo (middle) has ordered the Attorney General set to file a formal response on Army representatives in Parliament. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA– In an eight year battle that is challenging the representation of the Army in Parliament in a multi-party dispensation system, the Constitutional Court has ordered the Attorney General to file a formal response in the matter.

The five member panel led by Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo ordered the AG to respond to questions in regard to how special interest groups are voted in to Parliament.

Other Justices include Kenneth Kakuru, Frederick Egonda-Ntende, Cheborion Barishaki and Ezekiel Muhanguzi.

The judges asked the State to collect evidence in regard to questions whether Article 78 (2) pertaining the review of the election of special interest groups to Parliament was ever implemented after ten years as required.

The order rose from a submission in which State Attorney Philip Mwaka was responding to issues which were not in the petition but were raised by court.

This happened during the hearing of an application filed by a Human rights activist Mr Ellady Muyambi, who petitioned the court in 2011 alleging that having UPDF representatives in the August House is incompatible with the multi-party dispensation that a constitutional amendment re-introduced in 2005.

Prior to issuing the order, Court had heard from the Petitioner’s Lawyer Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi submitting that the army should be disregarded as a special interest group and denied representation in parliament because being a soldier is a job that attracts remuneration.

Rwakafuuzi argued that the Constitution provides for 10 army representatives in Parliament who seat on the side of government and become mere spectators for fear of engaging themselves in debates which might land them in trouble.

Here he cited examples of former Army representatives; Generals David Sejusa and Henry Tumukunde who were charged before the General Court Martial for speaking to the public without authorization from the Army Spokesperson yet they were MPs.

He also argued that Article 78(1) and (2) of the Constitution that allows army MPs and Section 8 (2)(a) of the Parliamentary Elections Act, which provides for ten army representatives in Parliament are in contradiction of other Articles 80, 208 and 209 which bar public officers from standing and holding electoral offices in a multiparty political system of governance.

Muyambi now seeks a declaration that the said ten Army  Mps should be recalled and declare their seats as vacant.

The judges have announced that after the Attorney General files his formal response, they will announce to deliver their judgment on notice.

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