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MPs want presidential, parliamentary polls conducted last

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Parliament has adopted a recommendation from its Committee on Human Rights that tasked the Electoral Commission to conduct presidential and parliamentary elections last in the cycle.

Committee Chairperson, Fox Odoi Oywelowo said the changes will guarantee interest in the local government elections which have historically suffered notoriously low turnout.

“The Electoral Commission should organize general elections starting with the lower local government elections upwards and end with the parliamentary and presidential elections to sustain voters’ interests in all levels of elections,” he said.

Implementing this recommendation will see lower local government leaders voted into office before the major presidential and parliamentary elections, which will reverse the order of elections.

Among a litany of reforms, the committee approved, include a stoppage to the detention of indebted individuals which the committee said is an affront to the civil nature of such cases, which would otherwise not warrant detention as opposed to criminal cases.

“The Uganda Law Reform Commission and the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs should review the civil procedure rules and Magistrates Courts Act to prohibit detention of civil debtors,” said Odoi Oywelowo.

The trial of civilians in military courts is to come to an end, following the committee’s recommendation against the same, with the argument that since the Supreme Court in a recent judgment declared such trials unconstitutional, the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister should bring forth legislation to align the law with the apex court’s position.

“The Uganda Law Reform Commission should initiate and champion efforts towards revising provisions of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces Act that permits trial of civilians in military courts,” partly read the committee’s recommendation.

MPs waded into the contentious debate regarding ‘safe houses’, a reference to torture chambers where victims are allegedly extra-judicially punished.

“The Human Rights Committee spent close to two years looking for safe houses; we tasked the police, we tasked our witnesses, we did not find any safe houses,” Odoi Oywelowo.

Asuman Basalirwa, Bugiri Municipality MP disputed the finding.

“In the 10th Parliament, the late Gen Elly Tumwine confirmed that safe houses do exist; it is on record,” he said.

Government Chief Whip, Denis Hamson Obua rose to the defense of government.

“Anyone who is arrested is detained in the gazetted detention centres and these centres [sic] are known to us,” he said.

For Atkins Katusabe, Bukonjo West MP, an early Christmas gift from the government was his prayer.

“Seven of our fellow citizens are in need of medical care; if the government wants to continue incarcerating them, at least they should offer them medical care; let this government give the Kasese people a Christmas gift by allowing the king of Rwenzururu to celebrate Christmas with our people,” he said.

He spoke in reference to the Rwenzururu King, Charles Wesley Mumbere, whose stringent bail terms since 2016 included never stepping foot out of Kampala and Wakiso.

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SOURCE: UGANDA PARLIAMENT MEDIA

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