The Monitor (Kampala)

16 February 2011

Uganda: Bills By Eighth Parliament Will Stay - Ssekandi

Speaker Edward Ssekandi yesterday moved to clear the air on an impending risk of quashing all the laws and other transactions handled by Parliament because of irregular presence of the sacked 77 legislators.

Recently, retired Supreme Court Justice George Kanyeihamba threw a spanner in the works when he blamed the Speaker for creating a crisis in the House with far-reaching consequences, including cancellation of all laws enacted during the 8th Parliament.

But Mr Ssekandi told Daily Monitor yesterday that the sacking of the 77 MPs for changing political platforms was inconsequential to the constitutionality of the parliamentary business handled during their presence.

"There is no parliamentary business which is going to be affected by the (sacking) of the 77 MPs in anyway," Mr Ssekandi said. "I have 332 MPs in Parliament and the quorum needed under our rules of procedure is only 100 members. In any case, even without the 77 MPs, I still have over 255 MPs and this is more than the required number."

The Speaker said the "strangers" in the parliamentary chamber were too few to cause annulment of the House's business, including laws and regulations. He added: "People like Kanyeihamba want to comment on everything, but as far as I am concerned, the law on quorum is clear. If 77 MPs leave, Parliament cannot stop working."

The Supreme Court last week upheld the February 1 landmark ruling of the Constitutional Court that threw the House into a crisis that appears to have settled down after Mr Ssekandi implemented the ruling instructing him to nullify the positions of the affected legislators. To the delight of Mr Ssekandi, Uganda Law Society president Bruce Kyerere also yesterday agreed with him on the matter of sacked lawmakers.

"The sacking of the MPs doesn't affect the Bills or any parliamentary business conducted as a result of their irregular attendance. The Constitution is clear on this matter," Mr Kyerere said.

Some of the Bills and motions handled in the presence of the former lawmakers between December 2010 and February this year, include, The Fish (Amendment) Bill, 2009, the Institution of Traditional or Cultural Leaders, 2010 Bill and the Political Parties and Organisations (Code of Conduct) Regulations, 2010.

Other transactions include the approval of the Shs602 billion Supplementary Schedules 1 that contains requests for additional funding by various government ministries and departments for the financial year 2010/2011.

There were also various loan requests approved.

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