MPs are still divided on how to share out the nine slots Uganda has on the E.A. Legislative Assembly
By Henry Sekanjako and Mary Karugaba
Despite a court ruling on the formula of electing members to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA), the parties in the House are still divided on how to share out the nine parliamentary slots Uganda has.
After a protracted debate on Tuesday, the opposition and the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) disagreed on the number of slots each party should take.
While NRM maintained that it takes six slots since it has the numeric strength in Parliament, the opposition demanded that the law entitled each party to a slot.
There are seven political parties in the Ugandan parliament.
"Political strength should not take precedence here. We should all be treated equally. As far as the ruling is concerned, representation does not mean numbers. Whether few or many, we should all be represented," said Betty Ochan (Gulu district).
Opposition Attorney General, Abdul Katuntu warned that Government needs to follow Article 50 of the EALA ruling to avoid embarrassment of Uganda at the regional assembly.
"We should not kill the spirit of the law and become an embarrassment in the region," said Ssebuliba Mutumba (DP).
In its ruling last week, the EALA Court of Justice said representatives should be elected by the national Parliaments, and not from amongst themselves but reflecting as much as feasible political parties represented in Parliament, shades of opinion, gender and special interest groups.
The leader of opposition in Parliament, Nandala Mafabi also agreed that numeric dominance should not be used to allocate slots.
"You cannot substitute the law with numerical strength. We in the opposition are not going to be party to the violation of the treaty,” stressed Mafabi.
He said they [opposition] would not participate in the elections should there be violation of Article 50 of the treaty.
However NRM members maintained that it is improper for the ruling party with the majority in Parliament to have only two representatives at the regional assembly.
"It's very unfair for the ruling party with over 200 MPs to have only one EALA representative. We should not disfranchise the majority in this Parliament," argued Rose Namayanja (NRM).
The Prime Minister, Amama Mbabazi who is also the NRM secretary general said what the ruling party was doing was in conformity with the treaty and added that whoever wanted to challenge the action was at liberty.
NRM caucus that sat on Monday resolved to maintain six slots for NRM, the opposition two slots and one for the independents.
MPs divided on EALA elections