Kadaga Closes Debate on Constitution Amendment Bill

The Minister of State for Lands Persis Namuganza supported the move to increase the parliament term saying that most of the MPs wanted it as well but were afraid to speak out.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

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The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has closed the debate on the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2019 after three days of discussions.

The debate on the Bill moved by the Shadow Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba seeks to among others scrap UPDF representation in Parliament, repeal of the Office of Prime Minister and Vice President, reinstate the presidential term limits and prohibit the Ministers from becoming MPs.

Kadaga on Thursday afternoon said that a total of 65 MPs had presented their views on the Bill and that Bill's second reading, were MPs take a vote on each proposal will be on notice. 

Article 260 of the Constitution, requires two-thirds of the total number of legislators at the second and third reading of the Bill. Out of 65 MPs who participated in the debate, there seemed to be consensus on the proposal to reinstate the presidential term limits and the establishment of a panel of Speakers. 

However, MPs expressed divergent views on the several proposed constitutional amendments including the removal of UPDF representation in Parliament, scrapping the Resident District Commissioners- RDCs, making all Ministers Ex-officials, reducing the size of Cabinet to about 40 Ministers (21 Cabinet Ministers and 21 State Ministers), holding the Presidential, Parliamentary, and Local Government elections on the same day, allowing a political party or Organizations that sponsored a candidate to challenge results of Presidential elections and others.

Although it isn’t part of the original proposals in the Bill, the proposal tabled by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to increase the term of office for Parliament and other elected officials from 5 to 7 years beginning May 21st divided the House after a section of MPs supported the proposal.

This proposal was initially passed by parliament while amending the Constitution in 2017 but was quashed by the Constitutional Court. If approved by Parliament, Uganda would hold its next general election in 2028 instead of 2026.  The Minister of State for Lands Persis Namuganza supported the move to increase the parliament term saying that most of the MPs wanted it as well but were afraid to speak out.

//Cue in: "term limits not...

Cue out:...a developing country."// Bubulo County MP, Rose Mutonyi Masaba also said that she had been approached by her constituents who are in support of extending the political term from 5 to 7 years.

//Cue in: "I support reinstatement...

Cue out:....the seven years."// Kassanda North MP, Patrick Nsamba disagreed with this position demanding an investigation into operations of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee.

//Cue in: "this matter was...

Cue out:...time Madam Speaker."//

On the proposal to remove UPDF representatives Brig. Felix Kulayigye said that their presence is still necessary. 

//Cue in: "that we maintain...

Cue out:...stay in parliament."//

Mbale Municipality MP Wamai Wamanga supported the proposal to remove the position of RDCs saying that it was wasting public resources since they duplicate the roles of other security agencies.

He also proposed that Ministers should be appointed from professionals and that the move will promote efficiency in service delivery. 

The Bunyole West MP, James Waluswaka supported the reinstatement of presidential term limits sayings that this was due to public demand. He proposed that the first runner-up in the presidential elections should automatically become deputy president.

Waluswaka instead suggested that the 10 slots for the Army representatives should be divided among the security agencies including Police and Prison Services.

The Minister of State for Planning David Bahati disagreed with the reinstatement of presidential term limits sayings that the restriction is not necessary since it's the citizens who elect their leaders.

Gen. Moses Ali, the First Deputy Prime Minister rejected the proposal to remove Army representatives in Parliament and also said that the office of the RDC should not be removed, but rather remove individual RDCs who degrade the environment.

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