The Constitutional Court has ruled that parliamentary elections in six municipalities were illegally conducted.
The Constitutional Court has declared six municipalities unlawful, null and void, leaving six MPs facing ejection from the House.
These are Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri), Dr Elioda Tumwesigye (Sheema), Hashim Sulaiman (Nebbi), Tarsis Rwaburindore Bishanga (Ibanda), Ocan Patrick (Apac) and Peter Lokoris Abrahams (Kotido).
Lokoris is the state minister for works, while Tumwesigye is the minister of science, technology and innovation. In a unanimous decision delivered on Friday, a panel of five justices, led by the Deputy Chief Justice, Alfonse OwinyDollo, ruled that the Electoral Commission (EC) never made any demarcation of boundaries for holding of elections in Apac, Bugiri, Ibanda, Kotido, Nebbi and Sheema municipalities.
“On evidence, the Electoral Commission never made any demarcation of boundaries for holding of impugned elections in the contested municipalities against which an appeal could lie, pursuant to the provisions of Article 64(2) of the Constitution.
Therefore, the elections held in the impugned municipalities are hereby nullified,” they ruled.
Other justices are Kenneth Kakuru, Fredrick Egonda Ntende, Cheborion Barishaki and Christopher Madrama.
The court observed that the elections conducted in the impugned municipalities were not for the office of Members of Parliament existing under the Constitution because they were not general election or bye-elections and that there were no vacant seats because the same people were already represented by elected MPs in the 2016 general elections.
“We find that Article 61(1) (b) of the Constitution places a duty on Electoral Commission to conduct elections in accordance with the Constitution and its duty is to ensure that each county is represented in Parliament as stipulated in Article 62(2) of the Constitution and can only be exercised where there is a vacancy,” the court stated.
The court has ordered the EC within one year to file evidence of the prescription of Parliament of the number of constituencies in the country for the next general elections, pursuant to the provisions of Articles 294 and 63(1) of the Constitution.
The court also ruled that the constituencies will be available for contest in the 2021 general elections upon resolution of the sitting Parliament.
“No seats should be created by creating more constituencies after general elections,” the court ruled.
The Electoral Commission has also been ordered to file boundaries of constituencies in accordance with prescription made by Parliament pursuant to the provisions of Article 63(1) of the Constitution within 10 months.
This means that the six legislators can only remain in Parliament if the Attorney General or the EC files an appeal to the Supreme Court.
But the Attorney General, William Byaruhanga, said he will have to review the ruling first before deciding whether to appeal. Tumwesigye said the affected colleagues will meet with the Attorney General and plot the way forward.
The judgement followed a petition by former Bufumbira East MP, Eddie Kwizera, who wanted over 83 constituencies declared unlawful.
However, of the 83, the court only declared six as unlawful. Kwizera argued that they had been illegally created by Parliament between 2011 and 2019 and should be expunged from government records and the affected MPs be ordered to refund salaries and other benefits.