IPod makes case for electoral reforms

Kampala.

As the government prepares to present wide-ranging amendments to the Constitution, a loose grouping of political parties in Parliament wants specific reforms to laws governing elections.A May 30 report from the Interparty Organisation for Dialogue (IPod), a grouping which brings together all parties in Parliament, which the Daily Monitor has seen, recommends restoration of presidential term limits, removal of direct presidential elections, exiting the army and the youth from Parliament, creating an independent electoral body and forming two parliaments.

Whereas the report has been passed to the President, Information minister Rose Namayanja said the IPod proposals would first go to the Cabinet sub-committee on constitutional reforms, which is chaired by the Third Deputy Prime Minister, Gen Moses Ali.

The Ali committee will then determine which of the recommendations can be included into the Constitutional (Amendments) Bill, 2014, to be is tabled before Parliament as promised by President Museveni.

Below is a summary of IPod proposals:Abolish presidential pollsIPod wants the Constitution amended to remove direct presidential elections. Under the proposed “hybrid system”, the party with the majority seats in the House will select the President and the Prime Minister. However, there was no consensus on this proposal since some members were of the view that the status-quo remains. But those in favour of this proposal argued that such a political system would reduce the cost of campaigns and strengthen multiparty democracy and political parties as no independent candidate will be admissible under this system.

Special interest groupsThe report says Army representation in Parliament is inconsistent with multi-partism. It says workers do not need affirmative action while youth and women are now elected directly at constituencies. The report only backs the retention of MPs for people with disabilities but adds they be chosen in line with multi-party principles. The arguments on Army MPs, however, were divided, with some members insisting they stay because of historical reasons and the country’s stability.

Presidential term limitsThose seeking their reinstatement argued that lack of them “makes a mockery of democracy, cultivates impunity and sense of entitlement of sitting president”. They also argue that creating two-term limits will align Uganda with other East African states. Like the other proposals, there was divided opinion between the NRM and the Opposition—with the former opposing the proposal.

Introduce Second ParliamentThe IPod report says a second House be created for senior citizens and accomplished professionals who may not wish to stand for political office. Known as the Upper House or Senate, this new body will help enhance checks and balances.

Who becomes an MP?There were three positions on this. The first was that MPs should have a first degree and at least two years working experience, while the NRM backed that the status quo (A-level qualification) be retained. A third line of thought, however, reasoned that other grounds of assessment rather than academic qualifications be explored.

Federal systemThe members disagreed on whether the Constitution should be amended to grant federal governance to some regions. To answer the call for more regional autonomy, especially in the central region where Buganda is demanding for a federal arrangement, some Ipod members had proposed a federal system which they say will have regional parliaments. However, the ruling party rejected the idea and demanded that the status-quo remains and that in the absence of this, the “regional tier” should be implemented. Buganda government rejected the regional-tier arrangement, saying it would dismantle the kingdom.

Elected Vice presidentThe report proposes that a running mate system be introduced where presidential candidates and their running mates are on the ballot paper.

Composition of IPod Daudi Migereko (NRM)Saleh Kamba (NRM)Mathias Nsubuga (DP)Hussein Kyanjo (Jeema)Ogwal Jacinto (UPC)John Ken Lukyamuzi (CP)

ymugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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