MPs Should Serve ‘Only Two Terms’ – Activists

As the push for electoral and administrative reforms continues, the National Alliance for Change (NAC) has pitched in with amendments of its own, proposing, among others, a two-term limit for MPs.

NAC, a registered pressure group led by Prof Peter Zaake, also wants the 10 army representatives to vacate Parliament. In its recent petition to the Speaker of Parliament, NAC calls for a total overhaul of the laws governing presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.

Among other proposals, NAC says legislators should have a two-term limit so that MPs don’t become lifelong people’s representatives. On army representation, the group proposes that since Uganda is under a multiparty dispensation, the army in Parliament represents no particular political thought and its budgetary needs can be effectively defended by the ministry of Defence.

Ten army officers represent UPDF in Parliament as one of the special interest groups created by the 1995 Constitution, the others being women, youths, workers and people with disabilities.

“The army is mandated to be a national people’s defence force and non-partisan involving them in parliamentary politics definitely undermines their neutrality,” NAC says.

NAC also proposes changes in the electoral college system used to elect interest group representatives. The group argues that since workers’ representatives attend to all matters pertaining to all categories of Ugandans and not only workers, universal adult suffrage should be the mode used in electing them.

On the composition of the Electoral Commission, NAC recommends that the chairperson and two other commissioners should be judges of the High court or retired judges recruited by the Public Service Commission. Elsewhere, the pressure group proposes a reduction in the number of districts from the current 113 to 90 so that each presidential candidate can be able to visit one district per day given the 90 days normally offered for presidential election campaigns.

On bribery in elections, NAC proposes that any winning candidates found guilty in courts of law should be disqualified from seeking re-election for ten years. The group further proposes that when the incumbent’s presidential term expires, he or she should hand over to the Chief Justice who shall be assisted by two senior judges appointed by the Judicial Service Commission. The three shall form the Presidential Commission.

It is proposed that their tenure be initially for three months, during which election campaigns shall take place. Then, for an additional one month, as the outgoing president who may have lost the election arranges to hand over to the incoming president in case there are no court petitions. If there are election petitions, the Presidential Commission’s tenure would stretch to include the 60 days during which they are heard and disposed of.

In case of a re-run, taking into account the necessity of funding a fresh election including printing other ballot papers, an extra two months would be required. In all, the transitional period shall not exceed eight months, NAC proposes.

“During the transitional period, the Presidential Commission shall work hand in hand with all the permanent secretaries of the existing ministries to provide continuity of government business, including the institutions of police and army and together, this shall be the transitional government which shall be remunerated,” NAC added.

Under this arrangement, NAC suggested, the cabinet shall be dissolved at the end of the presidential term and the start of the campaign period. On independents, NAC seeks to bar a person known to belong to a political party from standing as an independent unless he or she has formerly resigned, in writing, from the party six months before party primaries.

“The act of an intending candidate first presenting himselfherself for primaries in a political party or parties, then on being defeated that same person turns around and gets nominated and voted for as an independent be outlawed and penalties be put in place on conviction because the act contravenes a multi-party political dispensation system,” NAC argues.

The pressure group would also wish to bar the police, army and other security personnel from carrying weapons near polling stations on polling day unless such officers have been deployed there officially.

Source : The Observer

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