Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga, has given government up to the end of April to table electoral reforms ahead of 2021 general elections.
Kadaga, gave the ultimatum to Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Maj. Gen. Kahinda Otafiire Gen. Otafiire presented the agenda under which the reforms will be handled.
Gen. Otafiire said that in order to address matters relating to elections in Uganda, it is necessary to handle the matter in a chronological manner, beginning with the review and amendment of the constitution concurrent with the process to amend the electoral laws.
He said government is constrained to make electoral reforms because of the ongoing case in the Supreme Court challenging the amendment of Article 102(b) of the constitution, which removes the presidential age limit.
“Within the next six months, government intends to make final preparations relating to the establishment and appointment of the Constitutional Review Commission and securing of the necessary funds for the activities of the Commission,” said Otafiire.
Kadaga, said that the electoral reforms were directed by the Supreme Court after the 2011 and 2016 elections, and this should be respected, “As soon as the president was sworn in, your first duty was to address the ruling of the Supreme Court and we want you to respond to the command of the Supreme Court in full,” she added.
“There is need to separate the constitutional review process from electoral reforms, Even if you appoint the Constitutional Review Commission in July, they will report to the 11th Parliament. By the time this House goes for elections, the constitutional review will not be ready. It’s not our business, our concern is the electoral reforms,” said Kadaga.
Members of Parliament disagreed with the minister’s proposal to review and amend the constitution, saying that this will delay the process of amending electoral laws.
Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba said that the Otafiire’s statement shows that government is not willing and ready to present electoral reforms.
“I would like to seek leave of this house so that I bring a formal motion to amend electoral laws by bringing a Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019. Subsequently, I will bring amendments to the Presidential Elections Act, Parliamentary Elections Act, the Electoral Commission Act and Local Government Act,” said Niwagaba.
Arua Municipality MP Kassiano Wadri implored government to take the matter of electoral reforms with urgency to avoid a repeat of election violence.
“Instead of us eyeing the constitutional review process which may take longer than two years, let the ministry extract the areas which relate to elections so that the ground is leveled for all actors in the forthcoming elections,” said Wadri.