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Govt to split Omnibus bill

By Vision Reporter

Added 14th March 2005 03:00 AM

THE Cabinet has agreed to revise the controversial omnibus Constitutional Amendment Bill after MPs and the Judiciary questioned its legality and the way it was presented.

THE Cabinet has agreed to revise the controversial omnibus Constitutional Amendment Bill after MPs and the Judiciary questioned its legality and the way it was presented.

By Felix Osike

THE Cabinet has agreed to revise the controversial omnibus Constitutional Amendment Bill after MPs and the Judiciary questioned its legality and the way it was presented.

Sources said after two meetings chaired by President Yoweri Museveni last week, the Cabinet agreed to separate the parts that had been lumped together in the Bill presented to Parliament on February 15.

“It will remain one Bill but it is going to be divided into three parts,” said a Cabinet source. “Articles that will require referendum and district council approval will be put separately from those that are to be approved by Parliament,” another source said.

Museveni reportedly
instructed the Attorney General, Prof. Khiddu Makubuya, to adjust the Bill. The sources said it was agreed adjustments on the Bill be made at committee level before it is debated by the House.

In Parliament, Norbert Mao and Odonga Otto, who belong to the legal committee now scrutinising the Bill, are writing a minority report opposing the recommendation to delete presidential term limits from the Constitution.

“There will be a minority report. It is a right in our rules and we will exercise that right because we believe that case can still be argued in Parliament,” said Mao yesterday.

Sources said the Cabinet decision to re-arrange the Bill was aimed at forestalling a court case filed by MPs Ben Wacha, Miria Matembe and Abdu Katuntu, all lawyers, who want Parliament restrained from considering the Bill.

Sources said the Cabinet could not withdraw the original Bill because it would throw the transition period behind schedule by several months.
The Electoral Commission has warned against taking the Bill to the people in an omnibus form because it would run into execution problems.

The Bill lumps articles that should be amended by Parliament together with those that are for a referendum and the district councils.

There were fears that if the people were asked whether to approve the Bill or not, they could return a, “NO,” verdict on the entire Bill yet there are still some areas that are supposed to be decided on by Parliament.

The Omnibus Bill seeks to amend 114 articles. Among the controversial proposals is the repeal of Article 105 (2) to give a president unlimited terms in office as opposed to the current two-term limit.

The legal committee is expected to present an interim report to Parliament soon. The MPs, who have been on a three-day retreat in Jinja, voted on five proposals on presidential term limits.

The committee rejected two proposals; one seeking to amend Article 105(1) to change the tenure of office from five to seven years, and another to give a president three 5-year terms. Nakifuma MP Mugambe Kif’Omusana made the earlier proposal.

The MPs voted on retention and removal of term limits and on MP Mutebi Kityo’s motion seeking to retain term limits but operationalise the article after the 2006 elections.

Museveni would if chosen as the NRM candidate, go for his first term in 2006 although he has been in power for the last 19 years.

Those who voted for Kityo’s motion in the committee were Dan Kidega, Maj. James Kinobe, Alex Ndeezi and Rose Namayanja. This group reportedly said the term limits were necessary for orderly succession.

Mao and Otto were the only MPs opposed to the amendment to have endless term limits. “Kityo’s motion is like rape with a condom. It is still rape,” said Mao. There are MPs who are opposed to the lifting of the term limits but want a transitional provision for Museveni.

Moses Kizige, Pereza Ahabwe, Sam Lyomoki, Idah Mehangye and Tom Kayongo voted for the deletion of term limits.

Govt to split Omnibus bill

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