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Leader of opposition Ochan decries failure by Parliament to trim president’s powers

The leader of opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ochan

Kampala, Uganda |  THE INDEPENDENT |  The leader of opposition in Parliament, Betty Aol Ochan has expressed disappointment about the failure by Parliament to effect constitutional amendments that would reduce the president’s powers.

She notes that the government has been dragging its feet on putting in place a constitutional review commission which is why the opposition came up with a constitution amendment bill to effect a number of changes.

The Bill which is a private members bill fronted by Ndorwa west MP Wilfred Niwagaba was gazetted last year in December as No. 33 “The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019.”

The Bill which is cur­rently on the order paper for the second reading having been scrutinized by the le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs com­mit­tee, had sought to re­in­state the Pres­i­den­tial term lim­its, re­move army rep­re­sen­ta­tion from Par­lia­ment, re­strict the num­ber of min­is­ters to 21, per­mit po­lit­i­cal par­ties to chal­lenge the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions and change the name of the Uganda Po­lice Force to Uganda Po­lice Ser­vice.

It also sought to re­peal the of­fice of the Res­i­dent Dis­trict Com­mis­sion­ers (RDC), re­peal the of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter, in­volve the Ju­di­cial Ser­vice Com­mis­sion in the ap­point­ment of mem­bers of the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion, and es­tab­lish a panel of Speak­ers among other key changes.

However, a number of these proposals have been rejected by the committee in its report which is yet to be tabled on the floor.

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network – URN in an interview, Ochan however contends that the constitutional amendments are necessary to reduce the powers of the president who has become all powerful and is utilizing constitutional powers to exercise his wide-ranging mandate to consolidate his grip on power.

She argues that the removal of term limits and the age limit restrictions were grave mistakes by parliament that need to be corrected.

She has castigated the government for deliberately failing to put in place a constitutional review commission that would address some of the issues with regard to presidential powers.

Ochan in addition asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected efforts by the opposition to come together and deliberate on the possibility of a joint opposition presidential candidate.

She also believes that the pandemic has been manipulated by the state to give more power and control to RDCs in order to popularize the person of the incumbent president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as the country heads into the general elections next year.

 

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