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Attorney General, Legal Committee Clash Over Opposition Constitution Amendment Bill

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Some of the proposals that require government response include scraping the representation of the army in Parliament, repeal of the office of Prime Minister and Vice President, reinstatement of presidential term limits, prohibiting the appointment of Ministers from among MPs and others.
19 Feb 2020 17:38
Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba moved a motion seeking leave to present a Bill to amend the Constitution.

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The Attorney General, William Byaruhanga has come under fire from parliament for failing to present a response to a raft of constitutional amendments proposed by the Opposition under the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

  The Attorney General and the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister were expected to avail the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee a response to the proposed amendments tabled by the Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba.

The opposition proposals include scraping the representation of the army in Parliament, repeal of the Office of Prime Minister and Vice President, reinstatement of presidential term limits and prohibiting the appointment of Ministers from among MPs among other things.  

  On Wednesday, Byaruhanga told the committee that his office was not ready to respond to the amendments, saying they touch a number of Constitutional provisions and require sufficient time for a comprehensive response.

He appealed to the committee for more time to respond to the proposed amendments and suggested that the Justice Ministry be allowed to respond to other Bills like the Amendment of the Administrator General’s Act, Succession Act, the Administration of Estates (Small Estates) Act, Estates of Missing Persons (Management) Act and the Probate Resealing Act.

He noted that his office was of the view that when the five proposed laws are dealt with, then they can embark on the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2019.  

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His submission didn’t go down well with MPs led by the Kira Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda. He wondered why the Attorney General was giving advice to the committee on how to handle its work.

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Kaberamaido Woman MP, Veronica Elagu Biketero weighed in, saying the letter inviting the Attorney General was clear and required him to respond to the opposition proposals as well as the other laws before the committee.

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Niwagaba said the impression that the office of the Attorney General was giving concerning the amendments seemed like they are not ready to respond. He noted that this is the third time the Attorney General is failing to give his response on his proposals.

He suggested that the committee proceeds receiving input of other stakeholders and leave out the response of the Attorney General.

 

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  The Committee Chairperson, Jacob Oboth highlighted the previous invites to the Attorney General concerning the matter and his request for postponement. He noted that Constitutional matters were urgent and take precedent over other Bills being processed by his committee.  

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  Byaruhanga defended himself, saying that he wasn’t trying advice the committee on how to handle business, saying he was only interested in dialogue with a view of finding a middle ground.

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The committee resolved to proceed with submissions from other stakeholders.