Ugandan legislators face travel ban as electoral reform debate heats up

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THEY WONT GO NO WHERE: Deputy Speaker of Ugandan Parliament Jacob Oulanyah

 

Ugandan Members of Parliament sitting on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have been barred from both local and foreign travels by the Deputy Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament Jacob Oulanyah, The Deputy Speaker argues they have to expeditiously consider the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2015.

With less than 12 months to the 2016 general elections, Deputy Speaker Oulanyah said time is not on the side of Members of Parliament and therefore should desist from lamentations and accusations on the bill.

“The committee should as a matter of priority handle this bill first. It should chart out a comprehensive program for processing the bill and where possible sit from Monday to Friday without interruption,” said Oulanyah. Adding, ” Further, my office will impose an embargo on all travels for MPs whether local or abroad to enable the committee do as much work as possible within the limited time available.”

The Deputy Speaker also appealed to the executive and all its agencies to be readily available to meet the committee when called upon. He also urged the Prime Minister and Leader of government business to ensure that all the concerned authorities within the executive accord maximum corporation to the committee.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill was formerly tabled on the floor of Parliament last week by the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Kahinda Otafire.

It was immediately referred to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. The Constitution Amendment Bill, 2015 published in the Uganda Gazette on 17th April mainly focuses on reforms to the Electoral Commission and the Judiciary. The  Bill suggests a change in the name of the Electoral Commission to Independent Electoral Commission.

It also prescribes the procedure for removal of members of the Independent Electoral Commissions from office through a tribunal appointed by the President.

The Leader of Opposition, Wafula Oguttu noted that the presented amendments fall short of what the opposition expected prompting him to raise a procedural matter.

“Several stakeholders including the inter-party organization for dialogue (IPOD), Civil Society and others had presented views to government and parliament under a Citizens Compact but the views were largely ignored.

Deputy Speaker, Jacob Oulanyah noted receipt of a citizen’s compact on the constitutional amendments and that he is to make consultations on how the views under the compact are to be catered for during the consideration of the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2015. Oulanyah said that proper guidance on the matter is to be given on Tuesday next week on the floor of Parliament. Opposition MPs and Civil Society organizations yesterday described as a “gimmick” the proposal in the Bill.