APRIL 24, 2010: Govt,Opposition Disagree on Presidential Poll Bill

Govt, Opposition Disagree On Presidential Poll Bill
 
SOURCE: New Vision
 
By Mary Karugaba and Milton Olupot
 
Kampala — PARLIAMENT on Thursday began debates on the Presidential Elections Amendment Bill 2009 with the opposition calling on the Government to check the role of security agencies during elections, protection of candidates and restoration of term limits.

It was, however, noted that most of the amendments called for by the opposition required an amendment of the Constitution, which speaker Edward Ssekandi said was not possible "at this time".

There was consensus on many of the amendments with both sides arguing that amendments should be geared at making elections free of violence and intimidation.

The debate was dominated by lawyers Abdul Katuntu, Ben Wacha, Erias Lukwago, Odonga Otto on the opposition side and security minister Amama Mbabazi, deputy attorney general Fred Ruhindi and the legal committee chairman, Stephen Tashobya, on the Government side.

The Government had proposed that aspiring candidates begin campaigns one year before nominations.

Disaster preparedness minister Tarsis Kabwegyere expressed worry that if not checked, "endless" campaigns would lead to hunger because people would be involved in campaigns.

But the opposition rejected the proposal, saying it should be left open.

"How can you stop people from expressing their desire to become presidential candidates? Some people aspire for years, how will you control them?" Lukwago asked.

The MPs also failed to agree on whether the Electoral Commission (EC) should be given power to disqualify a candidate after nominations. The opposition argued that the EC is likely to abuse the powers, but the Government side insisted that it's only the election body which is mandated to do that job.

The two issues were referred to next week when Parliament resumes.
 

Kampala — PARLIAMENT on Thursday began debates on the Presidential Elections Amendment Bill 2009 with the opposition calling on the Government to check the role of security agencies during elections, protection of candidates and restoration of term limits.

It was, however, noted that most of the amendments called for by the opposition required an amendment of the Constitution, which speaker Edward Ssekandi said was not possible "at this time".

There was consensus on many of the amendments with both sides arguing that amendments should be geared at making elections free of violence and intimidation.

The debate was dominated by lawyers Abdul Katuntu, Ben Wacha, Erias Lukwago, Odonga Otto on the opposition side and security minister Amama Mbabazi, deputy attorney general Fred Ruhindi and the legal committee chairman, Stephen Tashobya, on the Government side.

The Government had proposed that aspiring candidates begin campaigns one year before nominations.

Disaster preparedness minister Tarsis Kabwegyere expressed worry that if not checked, "endless" campaigns would lead to hunger because people would be involved in campaigns.

But the opposition rejected the proposal, saying it should be left open.

"How can you stop people from expressing their desire to become presidential candidates? Some people aspire for years, how will you control them?" Lukwago asked.

The MPs also failed to agree on whether the Electoral Commission (EC) should be given power to disqualify a candidate after nominations. The opposition argued that the EC is likely to abuse the powers, but the Government side insisted that it's only the election body which is mandated to do that job.

The two issues were referred to next week when Parliament resumes.

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