KAMPALA – A Parliament committee report has rejected a government proposal to block independent candidates from contesting in elections.
The proposal, which is in one of the five electoral reforms Bills presented to Parliament in July, states that MPs who intend to leave their parties to run as Independents would have about three months to quit their current parties.
But the Parliament Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, in their report, said the proposal contradicts Article 38 of the 1995 Constitution which recognizes independent candidates and makes them equal to other party candidates.
“Contesting as an independent is a constitutional right. It is not right to be left to be manipulated by political parties. If we wanted to make contesting as an independent very difficult, like in other countries, we would have started by removing that article on independents by amending the constitution,” the committee report, a copy of which this website has seen, reads in part.
“We consulted in 14 sub-regions of Uganda on the government proposal on independents and it was rejected, which largely impacted on the findings of the committee and received considerable partisan approval. We do not have a minority report on the matter,” the report adds.
The report is set to be presented to Parliament after the festive season.
The proposal to eliminate independents is contained in the Political Parties and Organisations Amendment Bill No. 20 of 2019, one of the five Bills tabled by Mr Byaruhanga in July. Some of the amendments proposed by government are that a person elected to Parliament as an Independent candidate may form an alliance with a registered political party or organisation but the “forming of an alliance shall not be construed as joining that political party or organisation.”
The other Bills are the Presidential Elections Amendment Bill No 17 of 2019; the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill No. 18 of 2019; the Electoral Commission Amendment Bill No 19 of 2019; and the Local Government Elections Amendment Bill No 21 of 2019.