Betty Aol Ochan believes the President is too powerful and parliament has not done its part to put in place checks to prevent abuse of power by the head of state. She notes that government has deliberately avoided forming a constitutional review commission that would address some of these issues.
The leader of opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ochan has
expressed disappointment about the failure by Parliament to effect constitutional
amendments that would reduce the president’s powers.
She notes that the government has been dragging its feet on
putting in place a constitutional review commission which is why the opposition
came up with a constitution amendment bill to effect a number of changes.
The Bill which is a private members bill fronted by Ndorwa
west MP Wilfred Niwagaba was gazetted last year in December as No. 33 “The
Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019.”
The Bill which is currently on the order paper for the
second reading having been scrutinized by the legal and Parliamentary Affairs
committee, had sought to reinstate the Presidential term limits, remove
army representation from Parliament, restrict the number of ministers
to 21, permit political parties to challenge the Presidential elections
and change the name of the Uganda Police Force to Uganda Police Service.
It also sought to repeal the office of the Resident
District Commissioners (RDC), repeal the office of the Prime Minister,
involve the Judicial Service Commission in the appointment of members
of the Electoral Commission, and establish a panel of Speakers among
other key changes.
However, a number of these proposals have been rejected by
the committee in its report which is yet to be tabled on the floor.
Speaking to Uganda Radio Network - URN in an interview, Ochan however contends that
the constitutional amendments are necessary to reduce the powers of the
president who has become all powerful and is utilizing constitutional powers to
exercise his wide-ranging mandate to consolidate his grip on power.
She argues that the removal of term limits and the age limit
restrictions were grave mistakes by parliament that need to be corrected.
She has castigated the government for deliberately failing
to put in place a constitutional review commission that would address some of
the issues with regard to presidential powers.
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Ochan in addition asserts that the
COVID-19 pandemic has affected efforts by the opposition to come together and deliberate
on the possibility of a joint opposition presidential candidate.
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She also believes that the pandemic
has been manipulated by the state to give more power and control to RDCs in
order to popularize the person of the incumbent president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as
the country heads into the general elections next year.