Govt Blames Opposition On Constitution Changes

Despite sending them a written request, the government says the opposition has refused to submit proposals for constitutional amendments.

But The Observer has been told that the opposition is still waiting to hold a major conference to discuss the reforms it wants. Speaking by telephone on June 27, Attorney General Peter Nyombi said a cabinet sub-committee chaired by Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi had written to the leader of opposition requesting for their proposed amendments but that letter had gone unanswered.

“We sat as the cabinet sub-committee consisting of all lawyers in cabinet and proposed amendments. We also wrote to the leader of opposition but we have never received a reply,” he said.

Nyombi however noted that they received some proposals from IPOD (Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue) and other stakeholders, including the judiciary and civil society.

“We as the cabinet sub-committee, we have consolidated all those and our draft is now ready,” he said.

“The cabinet sub-committee is virtually ready to table its draft to cabinet for consideration, before tabling them to parliament,” he added.

Asked why restoration of presidential term limits has not been included, Nyombi said:

“I am not ready to discuss the details contained in the cabinet sub-committee document.”

However, the leader of opposition, Wafula Oguttu, said his side had decided on a national consultative conference where the desired amendments will be discussed.

Oguttu said the conference would attract academicians, church leaders and NGOs, among others.

“I do not know when the conference will take place, but it must be there before August,” he said.

So far, government is proposing amendments to provide for an independent electoral commission, grounds for the recall of MPs, creation of a salaries commission and giving more statutory powers to the president.

Cabinet is also seeking to introduce a new article providing for the cabinet in office during elections to remain in office until the person elected president assumes office. The opposition, on the other hand, has been pushing for electoral reforms.

“We want article 60 of the constitution to provide that the commissioners in the electoral commission would be appointed by the judicial service commission and serve one seven-year term,” said Shadow Attorney General Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri, FDC) in an earlier interview.

He added that the head of the commission should be someone qualified to be appointed a High court judge, while the secretary should be an aocate whose appointment is done by a professional body.

The opposition further wants the army out of parliament, arguing that the presence of its ten representatives makes it partisan and equal to civilian authority, which contradicts Article 208(2), which states that the UPDF should be subordinate to civilian authority and not engage in partisan politics.

The opposition also wants parliament downsized and constituencies standardised according to size for effective representation. The opposition further wants security agencies to stop playing a partisan role in elections.

Source : The Observer

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