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Legal Expert Advises MPs how to Trim President's Powers and Check Impunity

Prof Oloka-Onyango advised that MPs should push for the Constitution amendment of the articles through the Constitutional Review Commission in order to check on the excessive powers of the President and address the impunity by appointing the Ministers.
16 Aug 2022 12:58
Prof Joe Oloka-Onyango. Photo by Dominic Ochola

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Makerere University Law Don, Prof Joe Oloka-Onyango has tipped Parliament to consider amending Articles 107 and 118 in the anticipated Constitution Amendment Bill to help check the excessive powers of the President.

Both Articles provide for the removal of the President on grounds of abuse of office or willful violation of the oath of allegiance, and passing a vote of censure against a Minister on the same grounds.

For the removal of the President and censorship of a Minister to succeed, the process is started by a notice in writing submitted to the Speaker, and the notice should be signed by not less than one-third of all the Members of Parliament.

It is against this background as a bill to amend the constitution regarding the qualifications of members of parliament and the president that Prof Oloka-Onyango advised that MPs should push for the amendment of the articles through the Constitutional Review Commission in order to check on the excessive powers of the President and address the impunity by appointed Ministers.

The Law Don explained that while a factor of numbers plays a significant impact for such moves to succeed, the legislators should not be intimidated as long as what they are pushing for is factual and legally binding.

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The Professor also pointed out that whereas Article 118 requires the President to take appropriate action against a censured Minister with respect to misconduct, and the Minister in question to resign for abuse of office, the provision has largely been abused and promoted corruption and impunity to the detriment of public resources.

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Last week, the Tororo Woman District Representative Sarah Achieng Opendi, attempted to seek leave of Parliament to introduce the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2022 as a Private Member’s Bill.

Earlier on July 5th 2022, Jacob Karubanga Ateenyi, Kibanda South County lawmaker had attempted to seek leave of the House to introduce the same Bill under Article 94(4)(c) of the Constitution and Rule 2(1)(2) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament.

In her proposal, Opendi seeks amendment to Article 102 of the Constitution to raise the qualifications of the President and Members of Parliament from the current Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) to a Bachelor’s Degree.

Opendi also wants an invocation of Article 78 of the Constitution to ensure that 40 percent of parliamentary seats are ring-fenced for women to address the prevailing gender inequality in leadership structures in the country.

But, the Speaker of Parliament Anita Among directed the proposal to the newly appointed Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Norbert Mao for comprehensive and consolidated appraisal once the Constitutional Review Commission has been instituted.

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Since Uganda gained independence in 1962, four constitutions have been enacted in 1962, 1966, 1967, and 1995. 

The 1995 Constitution was amended in 2005 to remove Presidential term limits and to legalize the multi-party political system.  Again in 2018, amendments were made to remove new presidential term limits. 

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