Mushega Cautions MPs On Poll Reforms

As national debate on the proposed amendments continues to gather momentum, leading opposition politician Amanya Mushega has urged caution in Parliament when MPs begin to consider the intended amendments.

In his key note address to a national dialogue on Constitutionalism in Uganda organised by the Centre for Constitutional Governance, Mushega, a former minister, said the proposed amendments should be considered carefully.

“We need to ask, ‘where are these amendments coming from?’ For whose benefit? And what are the implications of these amendments?” said Mushega, who is the FDC vice president in charge of Western Uganda.

Mushega, a lawyer and former delegate of the Constituency Assembly, said that in normal practice the constitution is rarely amended and is only modified for purposes of democratisation. DP president Norbert Mao said constitutionalism cannot be guaranteed by a mere document but by an empowered citizenry that can criticise those exercising power.

However, Mary Mutesi, a lawyer at Uganda Media Centre, said that before those in the opposition criticise the NRM government, they should share the blame since they have also failed to build democracy within their parties.

“All of us are guilty. Like on changing the constitution, who comes up with the idea? Isn’t it the opposition and civil society?” she said at the dialogue, which was mostly attended by university students.

Sarah Bireete, a programme officer at Centre for Constitutional Governance, said the dialogue developed people-centred constitutional and electoral reforms to be submitted to Parliament for consideration during the Constitutional amendment.

The proposed amendments are currently before Uganda Law Reform Commission, which will include some public proposals into the amendments before the final draft of the Constitutional Amendment Bill is sent to cabinet for approval.

The Observer reported last week that cabinet has so far approved 57 amendments to the constitution. They include giving more powers to the president, more powers for government to acquire private land and also proposed that an MP will lose hisher seat if heshe is expelled by the respective political party.

Source : The Observer

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