MARCH 10, 2010: Opposition Plots to Amend Constitution Over Elections

Opposition Plots to Amend Constitution Over Elections
SOURCE: Monitor

By Mercy Nalugo

Concerned that government's proposed electoral reforms are not deep enough, the Opposition has sought leave of Parliament to bring a Bill that will amend the Constitution and allow for more landmark changes.

Mr Christopher Kibazanga, the acting Leader of the Opposition, wrote to the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Ssekandi, last week, notifying him of plans to table the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2009 to be discussed alongside four Bills brought by the government to the House.

The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee is currently reviewing the Presidential Election Amendment Bill 2009, the Parliamentary Elections Amendment Bill 2009, the Political Parties and Amendment Bill 2009 and the Electoral Commission Bill 2009.

Although the Opposition has been invited to make an input into the Bills, they argue that the changes required to correct anomalies in the country's electoral landscape require amending the Constitution, which the Government appears reluctant to do.

Unrelenting Lukwago

Shadow Attorney General Erias Lukwago's second attempt to move a private member's Bill on electoral laws was frustrated last week when Parliament ordered him to present them before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

"Whether it is in 2011 or not we are making good laws for the generations to come so we have asked the Speaker to grant us leave of Parliament so that we come up with the laws," Mr Lukwago, who is also the MP for Kampala Central, told Daily Monitor yesterday.

Opposition political parties and members of civil society have since last year been demanding for amendment of the electoral laws and the disbandment of the Electoral Commission which was accused of bias and incompetence in the 2001 and 2006 elections.

New Proposal

It is not clear whether the Opposition Bill will be tabled, discussed or approved by Parliament where the ruling NRM enjoys the two-thirds majority required to amend the Constitution.

Meanwhile, the Inter Party Organisation for Dialogue, a loose grouping of all major parties across the political divide, yesterday presented their views to the legal committee. Among others, they want presidential candidates to run for Parliament and forfeit one of the seats after the election if elected to both.