The Ugandan Parliament has at last published the much awaited Electoral and Constitutional reforms.
The reforms are published in the Uganda Gazette No. 19 dated April 17, 2015 and printed by UPPC, Entebbe on orders of government.
Titled the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2015 the bill is aimed at amending the constitution in accordance with articles 259 and 262 to change the name of the Electoral Commission to the Independent Electoral Commission.
It will also prescribe a procedure for the removal of members of the independent commission similar to the procedure of removing judicial officers.
It will see an increase in age limit for justices and judges, provide for the Judicial Service Commission to appoint certain staff of the judiciary, provide corporate status for the Inspectorate of Government, establish City Land Boards and provide a Salaries and Remuneration Board etc.
According to the document we received, Chapter Five article (60) of the constitutional has been amended to change the name of EC to Independent EC, to enable Parliament prescribe the composition of the commission.
Currently, the commission consists of the chairperson, deputy chairperson and 5 other members.
“There shall be a commission called the independent EC which shall consist of a chairperson, a deputy chairperson and such other members as parliament shall by law prescribe, all of whom shall be appointed by the president with the approval of parliament”.
“Any question for the removal of a member of the independent electoral commission shall be referred to a tribunal appointed by the president, and the president may remove the member if the tribunal recommends that the member should be removed on any of the grounds specified in clause (8) of this article,” reads the document in parts.
The document also says incase such a member is alleged to be incapable of performing, the president will appoint a medical board to investigate the matter.
The president still reserves the right to suspend a member of this tribunal.
In the bill, a Member of Parliament who ‘ceases’ to be member of his/her political party shall leave Parliament.
Then an independent Member of Parliament will be free to cross the floor and join another party and retain his seat in parliament one year to the next election.
The Inspectorate of Government shall be a body with corporate capacity to sue and be sued in its corporate name.
The opposition has been pressuring government to pass the constitutional reforms and ensure free and fair elections come 2016.