The Opposition legislators in Parliament have launched consultations on proposals for the amendment of the Constitution to introduce reforms that they hope will improve the country’s political landscape.
Speaking at a three-day consultative workshop on Constitutional and Electoral reforms at Speke Resort Munyonyo, the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LOP), Mathias Mpuuga said that the process was intended to energise and refocus efforts of all change-seeking forces in Uganda to make the country’s Constitution matter and all legislations that derive from it.
“The Opposition in and outside Parliament needs to find the necessary motivation and drive to make these areas for reform rallying points for the entire country and all stakeholders in Uganda’s democratic process. We need to summon the traditional and non-traditional bases into this conversation. It should become a matter of public duty and burden like most other citizenry obligations, not a preserve of politicians and their traditional allies,” said Mpuuga.
He noted that the current state of the country’s rule of law and constitutionalism has occasioned wasteful expenditure of public resources and exacerbated political tensions, hence a need for urgent reforms to shape Uganda’s political landscape.
“I don’t find it tenable to wait for the Constitutional Review by government. Over the last three years, there have been vain attempts by the government to initiate constitutional and electoral reforms. It is this deliberately obscure stance that prompted some of our colleagues, like Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba, to initiate Constitutional (Amendment) Bills. But this process was foiled to pave the way for the government process. I believe Parliament should assert its role and sufficiently apply itself to the legitimate demands of our time,” LOP said.
The National Unity Platform (NUP) party President, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu expressed pessimism about the implementation of proposed reforms under the current government.
“We all know that the cornerstone of any democracy is a Constitution that guarantees the rights and freedoms of its citizens. Our Constitution should be protected from manipulations and amendments which serve the interests of individuals rather than the collective aspirations of the nation,” said Kyagulanyi.
He appealed to his counterparts and Ugandans, regardless of political affiliation to work together in pursuit for change.
Representing the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) President, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, Soroti Woman MP, Anna Adeke said that the discussion on electoral reforms is a bit frustrating because of the lack of political will from the ruling government.
On the other hand, the Acting president of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Sadam Gayira said that his party would consider proposals from the consultative workshop and come up with a position on the amendments.
Discussing a paper on how the legislature and courts can safeguard the Constitution, Prof. Joe Oloka Onyango asked Opposition MPs not to accept a government-appointed Constitutional Review Commission, arguing that any attempts to amend the Constitution should be bottom-up led.
“The Opposition in and outside Parliament has to keep the government on its toes. Something has to be done about the growing militarization which has weakened our institutions. People must force this process. It has to be a collective struggle for fundamental change,” said Prof. Oloka.