Niwagaba clears first hurdle towards amending the constitution

By Mwesigwa Yusuf

Shadow Attorney General Hon Wilfred Niwagaba’s efforts to introduce major constitutional reforms on the electoral process gained momentum on Friday when he was granted leave of parliament to draft a Private Members’ Bill entitled the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2019.

Niwagaba moved a motion to parliament seeking the introduction of amendments to the constitution regarding the electoral process including public vetting of electoral commissioners, the provision of a deputy president appointed by a presidential candidate at the time of nomination and the abolition of the position of prime minister.

The prime minister’s role would be played by the deputy president as proposed by Hon Niwagaba.

However Niwagaba’s motion seeking leave of parliament to introduce a Private Members’ Bill was met with fierce resistance from the Deputy Attorney General Hon. Mwesigwa Rukutana.

Rukutana faulted the motion by Niwagaba citing that the motion and the bill attached to it violated Article 93 of the Constitution.

According to Hon Rukutana, Niwagaba’s proposed amendments go against Article 93 of the Constitution restricting private members from sponsoring legislation that would impact on the Consolidated Fund otherwise than by reduction.

On these grounds Rukutana sought to have Niwagaba’s motion thrown out of parliament.

But in an unprecedented move on Friday, the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah gave Niwagaba the needed leave of parliament quashing the attorney general’s efforts to block the motion.

“Whereas the motion moved by Hon Niwagaba is accompanied by a draft bill, it does not contradict article 93. The Bill referred to under Article 93 is one which has been published in the gazette,” said Oulanyah.

Rule 123 of the Rules of Procedure gives the Speaker powers of discretion to determine whether a Bill, motion or an amendment to a motion has financial implications.

Niwagaba will now have to convince MPs across the divide to support his motion for leave to formally introduce the Bill for first reading.

Among the standout MPs who have already shown support for the motion is Jackson Odur (UPC Erute South)

Odur applauded the Speaker’s ruling granting Niwagaba leave of parliament to draft a Bill saying they will consult the attorney general in the process.

About Yusuf Mwesigwa

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