Dust in Parliament as opposition rejects election bill


Kahinda Otafiire, Uganda’s Justice and constitutional affairs minister.


Opposition legislators have punched holes in the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2015 prompting the government side to ask for more time to reply to the concerns raised.

It came this afternoon after General Kahinda Otafiire, the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister formerly introduced the bill before the Legal Affairs Committee that was to scrutinize and consider the bill.

He was accompanied to the committee by Attorney General Fred Ruhindi and his Deputy Mwesigwa Rukutana.

Shortly after presenting the bill, the committee members objected to the proposed amendments on the appointment and composition of the Electoral Commission-EC, the age of retirement for Judges and the proposal requiring parliamentary aspirant seeking to contest as independents to collect 1000 signatures.

Abdu Katuntu, the Shadow Attorney General argued that the government proposal to amend Article 60 Clause 1 of the Constitution to change the name of the Electoral Commission to an Independent Electoral Commission does not guarantee the independence of the body.

According to the bill, the Electoral Commission members shall be appointed by the President with the approval of Parliament.

Currently, the Electoral Commission consists of the chairperson, deputy chairperson and five other members.
However, the opposition has proposed that the Commissioners are appointed through an open system with approval conducted by the Judicial Service Commission.

Medard Lubega, the Shadow Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs to issues with the entire and wondered how government had arrived at the proposals.

Wilfred Niwagaba, the Ndorwa East MP tasked the ministers to explain how government will ensure the independence of the Electoral Commission.

He also questioned why government had not presented any amendment in respect to term limits.
Both Wilfred Niwagaba and Abdu Katuntu disagreed with the proposal to amend Article 83 of the Constitution to kick out MPs who lose membership of their party.

Niwagaba warned that this specific proposal offends an ongoing court process where four legislators are challenging their ejection from Parliament after being expelled from the NRM party.

Others are Theodore Ssekikubo, the Lwemiyaga County MP, Muhammed Nsereko, Kampala Central and Buyaga County MP Tinkasimire Barnabas.

Dennis Hamson Obua, the Ajuri County MP demanded that the government side presents the committee with the list of all the proposals that were considered before coming up with the bill.

On the proposal to raise the retirement of Judges to 75-year-of age, MP Fox Odoi said this can only be applicable depending on the productivity of the judicial officer under question.

However, Otafiire defended the government proposals as wise adding that the public will be the one to judge.

The Minister is expected to report back to the committee on Tuesday next week with responses to issues raised by MPs.


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