By Joyce Namutebi
President Yoweri Museveni has expressed his support for the Marriage and Divorce Bill, but suggests some “crucial” amendments, sources who attended this week’s meeting at his Rwakitura home say.
The president on Thursday met a group of women MPs at his upcountry residence during which they scrutinized clause by clause of the Bill for over seven hours, according to the sources.
Betty Amongi who chairs the Uganda Parliamentary Women Association (UWOPA), and headed the group, said the meeting was called to clarify on the provisions which are contested by different sections of society.
“He agrees that the Bill should pass, but that we need to create harmony on the contentious clauses so that it is agreeable to all,” she said.
She added: “He pledged to reach out to the Church, the community and MPs to understand that the law is necessary and that it is another step towards propelling Uganda into a middle-class economy,” the female legislator revealed.
The President, according to the UWOPA chair, advised that the cohabitation clause be stood over.
“We can handle the matter later because different cultural institutions have different ways of handling it. He said this is an area that needs consultation with cultural institutions. We agreed that for now, let it be dropped,” she said.
MP Margaret Kyomuhangi, who was also part of the team, said the President was supportive of passing of the Bill, but that he underlined the importance of handling the Bill cautiously.
“He said this is something we must handle carefully so that we unite our families, instead of disintegrating them,” she said.
Museveni also agreed with the team on grounds of marital rape, saying it was criminal for someone to rape a wife, but they agreed to make the clause more focused.
The women and the President agreed to delete from the Bill the fear of psychological harm as one of the grounds a spouse may deny the other the right to sexual intercourse.