22 July 2013

Uganda Opposition to Petition Court to Impeach President Museveni

Uganda's opposition political parties and civil society groups plan to petition the Constitutional Court on Tuesday seeking to impeach President Yoweri Museveni.

If the Constitutional Court gives the go-ahead, then the parties and civil society groups could ask Parliament to impeach.

"I will certainly back whoever thinks President Museveni should be impeached for abrogating the constitution, because this level of impunity must be rejected with all the disgrace it deserve," said Gerald Karuhanga, a member of Uganda's parliament.

The groups accuse Mr. Museveni of flouting the constitution after he installed General Aronda Nyakairima as Internal Affairs Minister over the weekend. Nyakairima is still a top official of the national army, the Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF).

Article 208(2) of Uganda's constitution bars serving army officers from participating in partisan politics.

A cabinet minister's position is seen as political whereas military officers are mandated to remain neutral.

Karuhanga says the president refused to abide by the constitution in spite of repeated warnings from some members of parliament.

"At first we thought it was a joke that a military general can become a cabinet official in a multiparty system of government. It was pushed on and pursued by President Museveni until the general became a cabinet minister," said Karuhanga.

But, last week, Nyakairima was approved by the Appointments Committee of parliament. Karuhanga said he disagreed with the decision.

"It was very disturbing that the Appointment's Committee actually approved him because we had made it so clear to them and informed them and we thought they would reason it out legally," said Karuhanga. "Unfortunately, political influence overwhelmed them."

The government has rejected criticisms that President Museveni contravened the constitution.

"There is no legal instrument for General Aronda to resign or retire from the army before he can be appointed minister. That section of the UPDF Act is not applicable in this case because ministers are appointed," Attorney General Peter Nyombiu was quoted as telling Ugandan media. "The appointment of General Aronda should be effected without requiring him to resign from the army or requiring taking leave."

Political commentators in Uganda say it is unlikely that the legislators or civil groups will succeed in their efforts to impeach Museveni since his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) enjoys a comfortable parliamentary majority. They contend that the NRM will block any of the opposition's legislative maneuvers to impeach Museveni.

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