Uganda: Speaker Directs Minister to Table Electoral Reforms Bill

Opposition leaders after signing a Memorandum of Understanding to work together in preparation of the 2021 elections in Kampala (file photo).
17 January 2019

Kampala — The Speaker of Parliament, Ms Rebecca Kadaga, has directed the Constitutional Affairs Ministry to table before Parliament a Bill on major electoral reforms.

Ms Kadaga, who chaired the House on Wednesday, complained that the ministry has for the last two sessions remained silent on the issue.

As a result, Parliament, instead of the Executive, is being accused of ignoring the 2016 Supreme Court directive on carrying out comprehensive electoral reforms.

"No response has been given. Obviously, I think, as usual they expect to stampede this House. In that stampede, we might not make perfect laws," Ms Kadaga said during communication from the chair.

"Maybe they do not respect this House. So even when we say 'bring what is necessary', they are not interested.

"I now direct the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to come here on Tuesday, January 22 and advise us about the process of electoral reforms so that we can work out a legislative programme for the remaining period of the 10th Parliament."

The Speaker directed the minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, who was not in the House to appear on Tuesday.

In November last year this newspaper reported that the government had named 14 people to sit on the Constitutional Review Commission to consider various constitutional reforms.

Daily Monitor saw the May 23 letter to President Museveni by Maj Gen Otafiire, recommending the nominees for consideration. Gen Otafiire wrote a reminder on August 7, 2018 to the President.

Petition

Following the Amama Mbabazi petition against the Electoral Commission and Yoweri Museveni, the Supreme Court noted that the 10-day limit within which a presidential election petitioner should gather evidence to support their petition is unrealistic.

It similarly said the 30 days within which the court should hear and determine the petition is short.

Therefore, the court recommended that the Presidential Elections law should be amended and be increased to 60 days the time within which to gather evidence and the court to hear and decide on the petition.

Amendment

This has since been amended in the previous round of constitutional reforms to Parliament. The bill passed by Parliament is however, a subject of Supreme Court proceedings. The Supreme Court yesterday concluded hearing the appeal filed by Opposition leaders.

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