The Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu urged MPs to reach consensus on the need for the eligibility requirements for independent candidates because the Constitution provides for a multiparty system of governance.
has rejected the proposed eligibility requirements for independent
presidential candidates in the Presidential Elections Amendment Bill, 2019. The
Bill seeks to among others amend the Presidential Elections Act, 2005,
prescribe the period for holding presidential elections, time for campaigns and
provide for the electronic transmission of results.
It also aims at conforming to the ten
recommendations of the Supreme Court in the 2016 presidential election petition
and the Constitutional Amendment Act, 2018, which lifted the age limit cap for
presidential candidates, extended the time for filing election petitions,
hearing of petitions and the period for holding presidential by-elections when
an election is nullified.
The Bill also provides that independent
candidates can only be nominated if they have never joined a political party or
organization or if they left a political party or organisation 12 months to the
nomination day. The Legal
and Parliamentary Affairs Committee, which scrutinised the Bill, however
proposed that a person can contest as an independent presidential candidate if
they are not members of a political party or organisation by nomination day.
The committee chairperson, Jacob Oboth, said the
proposal conforms with the Constitutional provision that requires Parliament to
make laws to regulate participation of independent candidates.
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The Deputy Attorney General, Jackson Kafuuzi,
said that even people who didn’t participate in primaries of political
parties or organisations shouldn’t be nominated as independent
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However, a number of
MPs led by Fort Portal Municipality MP, Alex
Ruhunda and Masindi Woman MP, Jalia Bintu expressed dismay with Kafuuzi’s
amendment. They instead support the committee
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However, some MPs including Erute South MP,
Jonathan Odur rejected all proposals, saying they are restrictive. Odur moved
that the provision is deleted from the Bill.
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The Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister,
Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu urged MPs to reach consensus on the need for the eligibility
requirements for independent candidates because the Constitution provides for a
multiparty system of governance.
He asked MPs what kind of governance system
Uganda would have in the event that majority of MPs are independents.
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A number of MPs led by Busongora County MP,
William Nzoghu noted that such a scenario wouldn’t result into a constitutional
crisis because independents are recognized under the multiparty political
Nzoghu questioned how Kamuntu left Uganda People’s
Congress and whether the party issued him a discharge certificate as proof that
he no longer belongs to a political party as proposed in the Bill.
and Kasilo County MP, Elijah Okupa found Kamuntu’s response wanting
because he failed to explain whether or not he is still a member of UPC.
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Other MPs moved thereafter that the proposal be
deleted. However, Kafuuzi moved that government is given more time to
redraft the proposal to fulfill the constitutional provision that requires a
law on independent candidates.
Odur moved that the proposal is deleted from the
Bill because the 1995 Uganda Constitution provides that Parliament shall by law
regulate the manner of participation of independent candidates in elections,
not eligibility requirements for such candidates.
Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga moved that the proposal is deleted from the Bill
because it seemed to have been rejected by both sides of the House.
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The House was still considering other proposals
in the Bill by the time of publishing this story.