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Judgment day! Opposition’s fate to be sealed today as Electoral Reforms debate winds up

Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah chairs the session as the House is yet to determine whether opposition members in Parliament can table their set of proposed electoral reforms. (PML Daily PHOTO)

KAMPALA – The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah is set to make a ruling this Thursday, August 29, to determine whether opposition members in Parliament can table their set of proposed electoral reforms.

This follows a motion that was tabled by Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba earlier this month.

The Opposition has lined up a number of electoral reforms that they wish to be incorporated in the proposed amendments ahead of consideration of electoral reforms by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee that is currently traversing the country, consulting Ugandans on their opinions about the Government’s electoral reforms.

Hon Niwagaba took to the floor of Parliament on  August 1, 2019, seeking for leave of Parliament to table the constitutional amendment bill 2019, the opposition argued that the motion is aimed at amending articles 259 and 262 of the Constitution.

Among the proposed reforms include, to increase the number of members of the Electoral Commission from seven to nine, to provide for the involvement of the Judicial Service Commission in the appointment of members of the Electoral Commission as well as to provide for the qualifications of a chairperson of the Electoral Commission as well as to prescribe the grounds for the disqualification of members of the Electoral Commission and to require the Electoral Commission to determine election complaints that arise before polling within ten days.

Additionally, the Opposition is also proposing the removal of representation of the army from Parliament, to provide for the leader of the opposition, Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General as ex-official members of Parliament, to replace the requirement for resignation of public officers who wish to stand in general elections with leave of absence without pay as well as to prohibit the appointment of Ministers from among members of Parliament as well as to provide for the office of the Speaker’s Panel.

The other proposal is to provide for the leader of opposition to be the leader of a political party or organisation in opposition to the Government having the greatest numerical strength in Parliament, to provide for the involvement of the Parliamentary Commission in the appointment of the Clerk to Parliament, to reinstate presidential term limits, to replace the office of Vice President with the office of Deputy of President.

The Opposition is also proposing the repealing the office of Prime Minister, to allow political parties or organisations, or voters to challenge presidential elections, to restrict the number of Cabinet Ministers and State Ministers to twenty-one respectively, to provide for the appointment and tenure of the President persons to be appointed Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General.

Additionally, the Opposition are proposing to  provide for the tenure of office of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, increase the tenure of office of members of the Public Service Commission from four to five years, to require the Public Service Commission to determine salaries and allowances of public officers under Chapter Ten of the Constitution, to require the Public Service Commission, Education Service Commission and Health Service Commission, as the case may be, to appoint persons to hold or act in any office in the public service of the rank of head of department or above.

Yet still, the members of the Opposition are seeking to repeal the office of Resident District Commissioner (RDC) to change the name of Uganda Police Force to Uganda Police Service and provide for the regulation of its conduct, to provide for the establishment of city land boards.

However, Niwagaba’s motion was opposed by Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana on grounds that it would impose a charge on the consolidated fund which contravenes the constitutional provision that bars Parliament from processing private members’ bills that impose charged on the consolidated Fund.

Rukutana also argued that the reforms proposed by the Opposition would be catered for in the constitutional review commission, prompting Oulanyah to ask for more time to seek legal interpretation before ruling on the matter.

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