Voting on poll reforms Bill flops

PARLIAMENT. Parliament, which was scheduled to vote on the disputed constitutional amendments yesterday, failed to muster the required quorum of 250 members.
After fruitless attempts to raise the quorum, Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah was forced to adjourn the House two times but still did not realise the mandatory two-thirds.
At about 5pm, out of 386 MPs in the 9th Parliament, Mr Oulanyah counted only 211 MPs present, technically falling short by at least 39 members of the required number.
He then asked the whips to look for the missing members. When the House reconvened about 10 minutes later, the 211 MPs had reduced by 23 members.
Mr Oulanyah declared that the House was not fully constituted to vote on the proposed constitutional amendments, adjourning the exercise to today.
However, Mr Hatwib Katooto (Katerera County) and other MPs who talked to Daily Monitor said members were busy in their constituencies because of “the pressures” exerted on them by their political rivals ahead of the 2016 general election.
“This is bad timing. Most of the MPs are in their constituencies because of the elections but we are going to mobilise members using all channels,” said Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, the Government Chief Whip.
Ms Nankabirwa said she would put aerts in the media, calling members to Parliament. She said if they fail to raise the quorum, the Bill will be pushed to the 10th Parliament.
When the House convenes today, the MPs will vote on whether or not the current Electoral Commission should be disbanded. The House is also expected to vote on the return of the presidential term limits as proposed in the minority report.
The lawmakers will also vote on whether MPs should be allowed to cross the floor 12 months to the elections and whether independents should be compelled to raise 1,000 signatures during nomination, among other amendments.
Meanwhile, government agreed to form a Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to consider wider reforms but rejected reconstitution of the current Electoral Commission and calls for restoration of term limits ahead of the polls.
“The best approach is to accept the need to establish the CRC proposed by the committee in consultation with the Executive to do a comprehensive job,” Attorney General Fred Ruhindi told Parliament.
Mr Ruhindi said the proposals from the Opposition and civil society would be sent to the CRC. However, some legislators described the promise as a “decoy to hoodwink” Ugandans who are clamouring for meaningful reforms.
“More than 60 per cent of Ugandans don’t have confidence in Electoral Commission to deliver free and fair election,” said Mr Wafula Oguttu, the Leader of Opposition, adding that Ugandans want a peaceful transfer of power.

ymugerwa@ug.nationmedia.com

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