The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee of Parliament has rejected a proposal to remove the army from the list of special interest groups with representation in Parliament.
The proposal is contained in a private member’s bill by the Shadow Attorney General, also Ndorwa East MP, Wilfred Niwagaba.
Niwagaba’s push to scrap representation of the arm in Parliament is based on accusations against the UPDF of interference in not only civil matters but also in playing partisan politics.
The army is among the special interest groups currently represented in Parliament. The others are youth, workers and persons with disabilities.
“The Committee has examined the proposals made by the Bill and is the considered opinion that the proposal should be rejected,” reads a leaked report by the committee.
In its justification, the committee chaired by West Budama South MP Jacob Oboth-Oboth says that the proposal to remove army representatives from Parliament may be challenged for infringing the procedure prescribed in Article 78(2) of the Constitution.
It notes that the existence of army representatives in Parliament as a special interest group was not an afterthought but a conscious decision taken by the people of Uganda, based on the country’s history and the participation of the army in the political and social upheavals that characterized post-independence politics of the country.
The MPs say that whereas the Constitution allows for the removal of special interest groups from Parliament, including the army, it is their observation that such removal of any special interest group has to be in accordance with the procedure laid out in the Constitution.
Article 78 (2) of the Constitution empowers Parliament to every five years, review the membership of any special interest group in Parliament for the purposes of retaining, increasing or abolishing any such representation.
The Committee report comes just after days since parliament confirmed the continued existence of Army representation and other special interest groups in parliament for the next five years.
“The Committee is of the considered opinion that in accordance with Article 78 (2), the removal of army representatives in parliament as proposed in the Bill can be legally permissible if the provisions of Article 78 (2) have been complied with; being, that a review is conducted by Parliament and upon a decision being taken by the House , either to remove or reduce the membership or any other matters incidental thereto, the relevant law is amended to reflect the decision of the House,” reads the committee report.
According to the Committee, the proposal contained in the Bill can only be permissible after a review envisaged in Article 78 (2) and that since no review has been conducted by the House, the amendment is premature and contrary to the procedure under Article 78 of the Constitution.