Par­lia­ment Passes the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment bill sup­ported by most of the op­po­si­tion

By: Jacky Kemigisa

277 mem­bers of Par­lia­ment to­day voted in fa­vor of pass­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion Amend­ment Bill, one ab­stained and six op­posed out of 284 to­tal mem­bers who were pre­sent dur­ing the Bil­l’s 3rd read­ing.

Some of the key amend­ments made in­clude:

  • The Bill has al­lowed the in­de­pen­dent mem­bers of par­lia­ment less than 12 months to cross to po­lit­i­cal par­ties of their choice.
  • The Con­sti­tu­tion Amend­ment Bill as passed re­jected the pro­posal to in­crease the re­tire­ment age of Judges and Jus­tices from 65 years to 70 years and 70 to 75 years for judges.
  • The new con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment bill has changed the Elec­toral com­mis­sion name to the in­de­pen­dent Elec­toral com­mis­sion.
  • Par­lia­ment re­jected a pro­posal on Elec­toral com­mis­sion mem­bers hav­ing a non-re­new­able seven year term of of­fice in­stead of open term to avoid a pos­si­bil­ity of com­pro­mise.

How­ever, par­lia­ment shelved the mi­nor­ity re­port views for fu­ture con­sid­er­a­tion.

MP Mwiru Paul [Jinja Mu­nic­i­pal­ity East], the mover of the mi­nor­ity re­port pleaded with the house to ei­ther re­ject or adopt the mi­nor­ity re­port amend­ments as pro­posed.

“We all know that the ex­ec­u­tive has al­ways promised to re­view con­sti­tu­tion amend­ments but they never do so, case in point is how gov­ern­ment re­jected all op­po­si­tion views on the con­sti­tu­tion amend­ments and pre­sented only its views,”  Hon Mwiru said.

The At­tor­ney Gen­eral Fred Ruhindi, in his re­sponse said that the views in the mi­nor­ity re­port on the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment bill will be for­warded in the con­sti­tu­tional re­view com­mis­sion so as are con­sid­ered in fu­ture. “The le­gal and par­lia­men­tary af­fairs com­mit­tee agreed with the pres­i­dent to have this con­sti­tu­tion Re­view com­mis­sion to deal with pend­ing is­sues which could have not been dealt with due to time con­straint.” said Fred Ruhindi

It is im­por­tant to note that the con­sti­tu­tion amend­ment bill 2015 was passed to­day af­ter the le­gal and par­lia­men­tary af­fairs com­mit­tee had only gath­ered views from 16 dis­tricts out 112 dis­tricts in Uganda. In their ma­jor­ity re­port, the com­mit­tee did not bring to par­lia­ment views of the peo­ple on the restora­tion of the pres­i­den­tial term limit though it was widely de­manded by those who ap­peared be­fore the com­mit­tee.

Some mem­bers of the  op­po­si­tion lead by the leader of op­po­si­tion  in Par­lia­ment Wa­fula Oguttu, stormed out of Par­lia­ment, protest­ing the man­ner of de­bate on the Con­sti­tu­tion Amend­ment bill. “We in the op­po­si­tion can­not be part of the de­bate that does not want to lis­ten to the mi­nor­ity views, there­fore we choose to leave” said Hon Oguttu.

The shadow min­is­ter for In­ter­nal Af­fairs Muwanga Kivumbi, em­pha­sized that he can­not ac­cept the NRM Mps’ con­tin­u­ous re­jec­tion of the pro­pos­als to the con­sti­tu­tion Amend­ment bill with­out de­bat­ing them. How­ever the op­po­si­tion mem­bers who re­mained in par­lia­ment who in­clude Nathan Nan­dala Mafabi and Samuel Odonga Otto forced gov­ern­ment to drop its pro­posal for open term for the elec­toral com­mis­sion and re­tained the con­sti­tu­tion num­ber of seven mem­bers of the chair­man, Vice and five com­mis­sion­ers.

MPs also op­posed  the pro­posal fronted by Hon Nan­dala Mafabi, who sug­gested that the op­po­si­tion have a rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion.