Thursday February 6 2014

Is it time up for the Attorney General?

By most measures, in places where one’s reputation is a high value commodity, Uganda’s Attorney General should have handed in his resignation by now. Mr Peter Nyombi’s tenure has been reduced to a farce.

Opinion may be split over whether his downward spiral has been entirely self-inflicted. Or whether the fall was inevitable in a setting in which the country’s political leadership seems caught in a time warp; oblivious to its almost narcissistic feelings of entitlement to everything without question.
As a judge said on Tuesday, the Attorney General’s application of the law has been shocking, and particularly exposed by the fiasco surrounding the machinations to execute a coup d’état against city Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago.

It disappoints that fraternity-mates privately murmur that before he plunged into the murky waters of politics, the man had demonstrated considerable competence and intelligence in his practice of the law. This makes the apparent determination to persist in this misadventure of misadvising the government all the more perplexing.

Others before him, well aware of the weight of the Attorney General’s office, were more restrained in accommodating the, sometimes, outlandish wishes of Executive arm of government. Some may have lost their jobs. But he should have learned from them.

Instead, he appears to have forgotten to lay down a marker for how far backwards he would be prepared to bend. That oversight has resulted in the ultimate indictment with the Uganda Law Society dumping a certificate of incompetence into his laps, suspending him and then now this caustic admonition from the Bench.

We live in momentous times. It is a time when one wing of government appears determined to enact the final emasculation of the other two arms so as to rule unchallenged and unchecked. Now is the time for firm positions to be taken by women and men of great courage and foresight in defending Uganda’s constitutional order and the rule of law.

This perverse and self-righteous desire to fuse the State organs into one omnipresent entity has been demonstrated in the manipulations and very public flagellations of Parliament. It continues to be witnessed in the threats to sort out the Judiciary where some officers have performed admirably in spite of the pressure-cooker conditions. The Attorney General has failed the test; his peers have said the word.