All is not well between the administrators of parliament and the executive particularly the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
The rift arises out of the reorganization of Parliament’s Department of Legal and Legislative Services where a new Office of the General Counsel has been created to equal that of Attorney General.
Already the Parliamentary Commission, according to an internal memo has approved an Acting General Counsel Pius Perry Biribonwoha to spearhead the process to operationalise the Office of the General Council.
The new office, according to Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige, is to comprise two departments thus; Litigation and Compliance Department as well as Legal and Procedural Department.
“This is to inform you that the department of legal and legislative services has been re-organised to form the office of the General Counsel. An appointment of an Acting General Counsel (Mr. Pius Perry Biribonwoha) to spearhead the process to operationalize the Office of the General Counsel was also approved by the commission. In the near future, the office of the General Counsel will comprise of two departments that is to say: 1. Litigation and Compliance department and 2. Legislation and procedural department” reads the Memo from Clerk to Parliament to all staff.
The creation of that office means the Office of Attorney General will have less say on legal issues of parliament as they will now be handled by the General Counsel.
However, Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana insists that it is only Attorney General with mandate represent government in any legal affairs because the obligations are given to him/her by the constitution.
“Our mandate is provided for by the constitution and as long as the constitution is not amended, we shall continue providing legal services to parliament because parliament is part of government” Mr. Rukutana told Eagle Online.
Sources say Biribonwoho has been at the forefront of pushing the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga to create the office and is reported to have told his friends at the Gulf Course that it is only him who can handle parliamentary legalization and without him, Kadaga wouldn’t manage running the August House.
In 2013, Kadaga said she wanted freedom from the Attorney General to allow Parliament’s legal experts to represent the institution in the courts of law.
In what appeared to be yet another clash between parliament and the executive, Kadaga who addressed the media ahead of parliament’s recess then, and said parliament has demanded for legal independence ever since they were taken to court during the Oil debate in 2011.
Kadaga recalls that during the Oil case, instead of taking Parliament’s instructions, Attorney General then Peter Nyombi turned hostile, went to court and agreed with the complainant.