Ugandan Lawyers want nationwide reform conference

Frederick Jjuko, Law Professor at Makerere University,Kampala

NO HOPE FOR REFORMS: Frederick Jjuko, Law Professor at Makerere University,Kampala

A group of Ugandan lawyers under an organization known as ‘Kituo Cha Katiba’ want the constitutional reforms process in Parliament halted.

The organization says the Constitution Amendment Bill 2015, currently being scrutinized by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee, has fallen short of the demands fronted by different stakeholders including, among others, political opposition groups and civil society.

Constitutional lawyer Peter Walubiri told the committee that the current government bill restricts the amendments to a few articles in the Constitution, yet all views should be harmonized.

Walubiri suggests that a new law, the Uganda National Conference Bill should be passed by Parliament to enable all political actors, civil society and the public hold a national conference to come up with concrete constitutional reforms that will be adopted by all.

He says the National Consultation on Free and Fair Elections held late last year did not fully represent all political players. Nicholas Opiyo, another lawyer, notes that the Constitution requires an extensive process for amendment. He adds that it is better for the exercise to be shelved instead of rushing through it.

But Prof. Frederick Jjuuko, a Professor of Law at Makerere University says the political atmosphere in Uganda does not reflect any hope for reforms ahead of the general elections and requires consensus from all parties.

Committee member Abdul Katuntu however questions the essence of the National Conference saying it is not tenable since several stakeholders have already put forth their proposals.