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Court dismisses petition against army MPs

The Constitutional Court Judges during age limit judgement July 26. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – Five Constitutional Court justices have on Wednesday, July 25, dismissed a case which was questioning the legality of Army representatives in Parliament saying that it is Constitutional.

In a unanimous judgement, the five justices led by the Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, dismissed a 2011 petition in which a Research Associate of Africa Human Rights Monitoring; Mr Ellady Muyambi was challenging the Constitutionality of the representation of the Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) in Parliament.

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

“I would find that this petition lacks merit. I would dismiss it with no order as to costs given that the action was a citizen’s attempt to ensure that our public institutions act in conformity with the Constitution. The clarification as to what is the true import of the Constitution is of public benefit,” the court ruled in their judgment read by the deputy registrar of Court of Appeal Ms Agnes Nkonge.

The justices noted that the complainant Mr Muyambi had failed to show how the presence of army representatives affects the role of UPDF provided for under Article 79 of the Constitution.

Court  also disagreed with Mr Muyambi’s proclamation that Army representatives must resign from the army before taking up positions as Members of Parliament saying that it would amount to entirely excluding the army from Parliamentary representation and that Parliament can only do so through a Constitutional amendment.

The justices ruled that once a member of the armed forces resigns, he or she effectively ceases to be a member of UPDF and becomes a civilian which would, by necessary implication, automatically disqualify him or her from representing the army in Parliament because they do not have the authority to do so.

According to Justices, Article 78(1) (c) is clear and specifically provides for army representation which position is only available to members of the armed forces.

Answering to the worries of Mr Muyambi as whether Parliament reviewed the army representation as required under Article 78 (2) of the Constitution, the justices held that Parliament properly complied and executed it obligation of periodically reviewing the representation of special interest groups in Parliament for purposes of retaining, increasing or abolishing the representation.

Mr Muyambi through his lawyer Mr Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, had contended that Article 78(1) (c) violates the Constitution in as far as it provides for Army representation in Parliament and hence in contravention of Articles 208 and 79 of the Constitution.

He then asked the Constitutional Court to declare that representatives of the UPDF in Parliament are in contravention of the constitution and to order them to immediately vacate the ten seats they occupy.

However, Mr Muyambi has vowed to appeal the decision of the five justices to the Supreme Court.

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