How a new Parliament comes into force (A 10th Parliament Case Study)
After the February 18th general elections, a new breed of legislators (MPs) were chosen to represent the people of Uganda in Parliament. As standard procedure -they cannot assume office until they have been sworn in effect. The process of assuming office is no mean task. It has several activities. They are outlined below;
The Speaker dissolves the existing Parliament.
Dissolution is the official term for the end of a Parliament, in the case of Uganda, this happens every five years after the commencement of the first sitting of Parliament after a general election. Under the Constitution, MPs have a fixed five-year term after which a new bunch is elected. In some cases, Parliament may be ‘prorogued’ a few days before being dissolved. At this point all parliamentary business ends, although that Parliament would still exist until dissolution. In the case of the 9th Parliament, this did not happen as it was business as usual until it was dissolved on 11th May 2016. The Uganda Heart institute Bill, 2015 was passed in 10th and a loan request laid table the same day the house dissolved.
Swearing in of the subsequent Parliament.
Before the elected Members of Parliament assume office, they must swear in. This is prescribed by chapter 19; Oaths Act of 1963. A member of Parliament takes the Oath of Allegiance followed by the Oath of Member of Parliament both laid out in the Fourth Schedule of the 1995 Constitution and the first Schedule of the Oath Act of 1963. The 10th Parliament had three days of swearing given the number of MPs, starting on the 16th and ending on 18th May, 2016. Parliament had arranged to swear in 427 MPs, only 426 were sworn in because Hon. Margaret Mugisa, Woman MP Buryaha County did not attend the ceremony.
Election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
Article 82(4) provides that, “no business shall be transacted in Parliament other than an election to the Office of Speaker at any time that office is vacant.” The first plenary sitting always caters for this process. The Chief Justice or a judge designated by the Chief Justice presides at an election of the Speaker and the Speaker presides at an election of the Deputy Speaker according to Article 82(5).The 10th Parliament had its maiden sitting on 19th May, 2016 where the Speaker and Deputy Speaker where elected. The acting Chief Justice, His Lordship, Stephen Kavuma oversaw the election of the Speaker of the 10 Parliament. Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga emerged the winner. Consequently, the Speaker Elect, oversaw the election of the Deputy Speaker. Two MPs were nominated for the Deputy Speaker race, Hon. Nsereko Muhammad an independent Member and Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, affiliated to the NRM ruling party. The latter took the day with 300 votes while the former garnered 115 votes.
The President, H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni attended the election, a first for him I presume, given the skepticism surrounding his attendance of event. Some accused him of trying to intimidate the voters who may have wanted to vote contrary to the Kyankwanzi Caucus resolution and also protect his “investment” of UGX 5 million that he extended to NRM and leaning independents. The President’s presence was substantiated by the Oath Act of 1963 and he also defended the money he gave NRM MPs as a means of help with no ulterior motives.
The election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker officially marked the commencement of the 10th Parliament.
At this point I wish the institution good luck with all its endeavors.