Sunday March 16 2014

MPs want 2016 polls extended

Leader of the Opposition Wafula Oguttu. “Is it

Leader of the Opposition Wafula Oguttu. “Is it that they want to extend so that the President can rule till he is 75 years? It is so unfortunate that everything is being done to please one person.” 


Through a proposed law, the MPs claim this will enable the government to scrutinise and implement the various electoral reforms as demanded by the opposition, the Electoral Commission and civil society.

The scheme is being fronted by Nakifuma County Member of Parliament Robert Kafeero Ssekitoleko. The MP told this newspaper yesterday a group of them are now consulting both the Executive and public on the matter.

“There is a group of MPs who have been assigned to gauge the public mood,” Mr Ssekitoleko told the Daily Monitor during a telephone interview.
The proposal, he said, will formally be tabled in the House through a Bill and “select members on the legal committee are clandestinely studying the proposal and consulting relevant legal brains”.

The MPs, however, could not disclose who had assigned them the role or the colleagues who are driving the Bill. But he hinted: “Some are long serving legislators whereas others sit in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament.”

The proposal might require a Constitution amendment. Article 77(4) of the Constitution says Parliament can only be extended where there exists a state of war or emergency which would prevent a normal election from being held.

Parliament, the Constitution says, may, by resolution supported by not less than two thirds of all the MPs, extend the life of Parliament for a period of six months.

Mr Sekitoleko said: ‘The Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Council Extension Bill 2014 is meant to avoid the torturous Constitutional Amendment route.

The draft Bill proposes the extension of the election of political leaders by five years (2016-2021).

Mr Ssekitoleko claimed the government supports the Bill and that the Attorney General had been tasked to study its merits and craftsmanship.
By the time we went to press, Mr Ruhindi had not picked our calls for a comment.

The government has, however, distanced itself from the manoeuvre.
Ms Rose Namayanja, the minister of Information and National Guidance, said: “I sit on Cabinet and attend regularly, I have neither heard nor seen the Bill. Therefore, it is not under consideration – as far as I know. It has never been on the Cabinet’s agenda. May be it is a Private Member’s Bill.”

NRM denies plan
A private members’ Bill is a piece of legislation initiated by an individual MP other than the government.

The NRM leadership equally denied being party to the move.
“NRM has never had a position on that,” Ms Mary Karooro, the party spokesperson, said in a text message from New York.

Opposition legislators said it would be a wrong political turn for the country if the proposal ever comes to the House for debate.
“That will be an overthrow of the constitution,” said Mr Abdu Katuntu, the shadow attorney general. “I think they are just being reckless and I don’t think any well-meaning politician will be party to that. They can amend the Constitution to extend their stay in power but that will be an over throw of the constitution.”

Mr Medard Ssegona (Busiro East) described the move as “sinister” to keep non-performers in the public domain.

“Some people do not perform here and do not expect to return. Others have reached retirement age and want to use this as a blank cheque to have them extend their stay. This will not work,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Wafula Oguttu attributed the move to a desire by self-seeking MPs to please one person.
Recently, opposition political parties and civil society organisations launched a campaign to rally citizens to demand for electoral reforms to guarantee free and fair elections come 2016.

Mr Ssekitoleko defended his project saying government is already spending too much money on the national census and production of national Identity cards less than two years to the elections.

“The 2016 elections require billions of shillings to hold. We don’t want to enter into another financial crisis like it happened shortly after the 2011 elections.”