Uganda: Opposition Ready to Present Electoral Reforms - Opposition

Members of parliament debate during the plenary session recently. Parliament on Wednesday rejected President Museveni’s directive on Income Tax Bill.
31 January 2019

Kampala — Opposition is ready to present electoral reforms before Parliament for consideration, the Leader of Opposition (LoP), Ms Betty Aol, has said.

Ms Aol accused the government of failing to present the reforms since 2014.

In a press conference held at Parliament yesterday, Ms Aol highlighted key areas of concern, among them; the restoration of presidential term limits and provision of a running-mate as deputy president.

If these are addressed, the Opposition will facilitate a free and fair election in 2021.

It is two years to the next general election and the government is yet to introduce laws.

"As the Opposition, we cannot fold our hands and let the National Resistance Movement appointed Electoral Commission prepare and serve our nation another sham election," Ms Aol said.

She said: " The reason NRM has refused to present the Bill as ordered by the Supreme Court is because many of them are beneficiaries of rigged elections."

She said, with the 2021 election roadmap, it is clear that the two-year directive by court no longer holds due to the ruling party's adamancy.

The Opposition, in a motion drawn by shadow attorney general, Mr Wilfred Niwagaba (Ind, Ndorwa East) seek to introduce the reforms as a matter of amendment to the Constitution, using a private members' Bill, the Constitution Amendment Bill 2019.

Mukono Municipality MP, Ms Betty Nambooze, presented 10 areas of interest.

Among them the introduction of federal government, constitution of an independent Electoral Commission, securing the independence of Parliament and introduction of majority and minority positions in the House, making a presidential candidate with 10 per cent score in a general election be an ex-Member of Parliament, removing the military from Parliament and partisan institutions as well as reinstating and entrenching presidential term limits.

The Opposition also intend to create what they called a speaker's panel to advise the office of the Speaker and preside over Parliament in case the Speaker and deputy are absent.

If allowed to proceed with their proposals, they will seek to provide for the deputy president as a running-mate to the President during elections and to have a lean government with only 21 Cabinet ministers and an equal number of state ministers.

On Tuesday, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga asked the Opposition to notify her when they are ready with the reforms.

Uncertainty, however, hovers over the fate of the Opposition motion, since the same Speaker gave up to end of April this year, for the government to present the reforms.

After they have been presented, the reforms shall be scrutinised by the Parliamentary committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and a report tabled in plenary for discussion.

Efforts to get a comment from the Attorney General, Mr William Byaruhanga, and his deputy Mwesigwa Rukutana were futile by press time.

However, Col Shaban Bantariza, the deputy executive director of the Uganda Media Centre, said discussing the matter at the moment would be speculative.

"That is democracy, and you know issues in Parliament, you cannot tell what will happen tomorrow or by end of April," he said.

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