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Opposition Constitution Amendment Bill title gazetted

FILE PHOTO: Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The title of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 by the Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba has been gazetted.

The title gazette follows several exchanges between the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige, Attorney General’s Office, Ministry of Finance and the Leader of Opposition Betty Aol Ocan.

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network-URN on Tuesday, Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba disclosed that the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah had overruled intentions of not gazetting the Private Members’ Bill with reasoning that it had financial implications and that after the gazette of the Bill title, details of the Bill were to be gazetted on Wednesday.

Niwagaba reveals that according to a copy of the gazette they have received, the title of the Bill was gazetted on Friday 13th December as No. 33 “The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019.”

He says he has just signed off on the final publication this morning for the full text to be published tomorrow in the gazette.

Niwagaba believes that this development will encourage the Speaker of Parliament to place the Bill on the Order Paper for its first reading and thereafter consultations before the relevant committee.

The Bill seeks to introduce a raft of constitutional reforms that the Opposition believe are necessary to usher in effective democratic governance. It among others seeks to scrap the representation of the army in Parliament, repeal the office of Prime Minister, reinstate presidential term limits and prohibit the appointment of Ministers from among Members of Parliament.

It also seeks to provide for the involvement of the Parliamentary Commission in the appointment of the Clerk to Parliament; the involvement of the Judicial Service Commission in the appointment of members of the Electoral Commission, the qualification of the EC Chairperson and the grounds for disqualification of members of the EC.

Niwagaba believes that a number of the provisions in his Bill are popular even among the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party MPs who accorded him the support he needed during his motion that sought leave to draft the law.

There has been a stalemate between the opposition and the government side following refusal by the Finance Minister Matia Kasaija to issue a Certificate of Financial Implication in order for Niwagaba to proceed with tabling of the Bill.

This impasse was broken by Oulanyah who directed the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige to gazette the Bill since the 60 days set by the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 had elapsed following Niwagaba’s application through the Clerk to Parliament for a certificate.

Section 76 (4) of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), 2015 provides that a Certificate of Financial Implication shall be deemed to have been issued after 60 days from the date of request of the certificate.

This section also highlighted in the Parliament Rules of Procedure mainly allows Private Members’ Bills to be presented before Parliament if the Certificate of Financial Implication is not issued within the set timeline.

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