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MPs disagree on removal of army representatives from parliament

FILE PHOTO: Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba presents the bill before Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee. In his Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2019, he proposed the removal of army representatives from parliament.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Members of Parliament sitting on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have urged the House to reject a proposal by the Opposition to remove the army from being represented in parliament.

The army is among the special interest groups currently represented in Parliament. The others are youth, workers and persons with disabilities.

In his Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba proposed the removal of army representatives from parliament.

“The Committee has examined the proposals made by the Bill and is the considered opinion that the proposal should be rejected,” reads the committee report accessed by Uganda Radio Network – URN.

In its justification, the committee chaired by West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth says that the proposal to remove army representatives from parliament may be challenged for infringing the procedure prescribed in Article 78(2) of the Constitution.

It notes that the existence of army representatives in Parliament as a special interest group was not an afterthought but a conscious decision taken by the people of Uganda, based on the country’s past history and the participation of the army in the political and social upheavals that characterized post-independence politics of the country.

The MPs say that whereas the Constitution allows for the removal of special interest groups from parliament, including  the army, it is their observation that such removal of any special interest group has to be in accordance with the procedure laid out in the Constitution.

Article 78 (2) of the Constitution empowers Parliament to every five years, review the membership of any special interest group in Parliament for the purposes of retaining, increasing or abolishing any such representation.

The Committee report comes just after days parliament confirmed the continued existence of army representation and other special interest groups in parliament for the next five years.

“The Committee is of the considered opinion that in accordance with Article 78 (2), the removal of army representatives in parliament as proposed in the Bill can be legally permissible if the provisions of Article 78 (2) have been complied with; being, that a review is conducted by Parliament and upon a decision being taken by the House, either to remove or reduce the membership or any other matters incidental there to, the relevant law is amended to reflect the decision of the House,” reads the committee report.

According to the Committee chaired by West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth, the proposal contained in the Bill can only be permissible after a review envisaged in Article 78 (2) and that since no review has been conducted by the House, the amendment is premature and contrary to the procedure under Article 78 of the Constitution.

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