PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has signed into law the Constitutional Amendment Bill, which among other things, has scrapped the presidential term limits, reports Felix Osike.
Museveni, whose two five-year terms end on May 12, next year, is now eligible to stand for another term if the NRM organisation endorses him.
Clerk to Parliament Aeneas Tandekwire said the President signed the Bill on September 26, ending speculation that he would not assent to it because of a provision which requires public officers who want to contest to resign three months before nomination.
â€œHe has signed it. It is now an Act of Parliament. I have communicated to the MPs who were asking about the Bill,â€ Tandekwire said.
He said the constitutional amendments took effect immediately. The 1995 Constitution, which placed the two terms restriction, is amended.
Debate on the indefinite eligibility of a president has raged on for years. But Parliament last month voted overwhelmingly to support the proposal arguing that there should be open terms as long as voters want them.
Ten civil servants, including Kampala City Council, Engineer Abraham Byandala, Sarah Nkonge of the Vice-Presidentâ€™s Office and Makerere University lecturer Mohammed Kibirige Mayanja had petitioned Museveni not to assent to the Bill.
Under the new law, presidential, parliamentary and local government elections will be held on the same day, before March 12, 2006.
Parliamentâ€™s term will also be reduced by about two months to coincide with the current term of the President, which expires in May next year.
Tandekwire said there was no special formula to pay the MPs. He said they would be paid what they would have earned if they completed their term.
Consequential amendments to the laws relating to the elections are also to be made next month.
Justice minister Khiddu Makubuya on Tuesday tabled the presidential, parliamentary and local council elections Bills to repeal the existing laws on elections.
From now on, Swahili is the second official language and Kampala city gets a special status.
Under the new law, Ugandans can have dual citizenship. Individuals from other countries who are capable of making substantial investments in Uganda can also acquire dual citizenship.
Marriage is only valid if it is between man and woman and not persons of the same sex.
The law also disqualifies from election a person convicted of certain crimes within seven years before an election.
Persons lose their seat in Parliament if they are expelled by their party.
At the end of the nominations, if only one candidate is nominated, he or she should be declared elected president.
The law creates the office of the Leader of Opposition in the multiparty Parliament and legalises that of the Prime Minister and the Deputy Attorney General.