Bugisu Region Contests Electoral Reforms Bills

By Mwesigwa Yusuf

Mbale Youths expressed their discontent with the provisions enshrined in the Presidential and Parliamentary Election Bills to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee at Mbale District Headquarters on Thursday.

The youths contested clause 10 (a) of the Parliament Elections Bill that ” a person is eligible for an election as an independent if that person is not a member of a registered political party or organisation.”

The clause was described as unfair, with the Bugisu Sub region UPC chairman, Mike Kasola saying it erodes fundamental human rights of an individual enshrined in Article 20 of the constitution.

The Bills were tabled back in July by Attorney General William Byaruhanga for first reading.

The Speaker Rebecca Kadaga then fowarded the Bills to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee for scrutiny and present a report to Parliament.

Soon after the Attorney General’s presentation, the Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba noted that the opposition has various amendments to electoral laws and the constitution as well.

Niwagaba acquired space on the Order Paper seeking to present a proposal of reforms by the opposition to be considered along side those from the Attorney General.

The opposition unveiled a total of ten proposed electoral reforms key of which include reinstating and entrenching presidential term limits, making a deputy president a running mate to the president during elections and scrapping Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) representatives from parliament and other institutions.

In the responses to the Attorney General’s proposed reforms presented before them last week, key voices from the youths requested that a constitutional review commission be set up before an overhaul of the entire constitution is done in line with court orders.

The same issue was highlighted by the Buliisa County MP Stephen Mukitale Birahwa on the first reading of the Attorney General’s electoral reform proposals.

At the time, the speaker brushed off the idea saying parliament had to focus on issues at hand.

The youths also demanded that the incumbent president steps aside during elections and hand over power to either the Speaker or Chief Justice.

Meanwhile, as the debate on the Attorney General’s reforms gains momentum, the Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba is yet to see meaningful results to having his proposals accepted before Parliament.

On Friday, Niwagaba was given leave of parliament to present his Bill of reforms for debate.

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