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Fate of evicted MPs to be determined today

By Farooq Kasule

Added 6th February 2020 09:50 AM

On December 27, last year, five justices of the Constitutional Court led by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo unanimously ordered the six legislators to vacate parliament, saying they were occupying non-extent seats.

Fate of evicted MPs to be determined today

Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo. Photo/File

On December 27, last year, five justices of the Constitutional Court led by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo unanimously ordered the six legislators to vacate parliament, saying they were occupying non-extent seats.

JUDICIARY     LEGISLATURE 

KAMPALA - The Supreme Court is slated Thursday to hear applications by the Attorney General and Electoral Commission in which they are jointly seeking a stay the eviction of six Members of Parliament from the House.

The MPs who represent six municipalities are Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri), Dr. Elioda Tumwesigye (Sheema), Hashim Sulaiman (Nebbi), Tarsis Rwaburindore Bishanga (Ibanda), Ocan Patrick (Apac) and Peter Lokoris Abrahams (Kotido). 

According to the hearing notice issued by the acting Assistant Supreme Court Registrar, Esther Rebecca Nasambu, the highest court on the land will be presided over by a panel of seven justices.

They include the out-going Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Justice Mike Chibita. Others are Esther Kisakye, Stella Arach Amoko, Rubby Aweri Opio, Lillian Tibatemwa, Paul Mugamba, and Richard Buteera.

On January 10, this year AG and EC filed an application for stay of implementation of the Constitutional Court judgment pending determination of their appeal which they claim has higher chances of success.

On December 27, last year, five justices of the Constitutional Court led by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo unanimously ordered the six legislators to vacate parliament, saying they were occupying non-extent seats.

The court noted that it was illegal for Electoral Commission to conduct elections in the newly created municipalities of Apac, Bugiri, Ibanda, Kotido, Nebbi, and Sheema.

In its judgment, the Constitutional Court observed that the Electoral Commission never made any demarcation of boundaries for holding of elections in the impugned municipalities.

"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.

"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 each county is represented in Parliament as stipulated by Article 62(2) of the Constitution and can only be exercised where there is a vacancy. Therefore, vacancies would only occur in the impugned municipalities within the necessary demarcation," the court stated.

The Justices concluded that the parliamentary elections which were held in the impugned municipalities in the middle of the parliamentary term yet there were not bye-elections contravened Article 63(6) of the Constitution.

Court resolved that the seats will be available for the contest in the upcoming 2021 general elections.

The judgment 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.

Kwizera, through his lawyer Wandera Ogalo accused the Electoral Commission of abdicating its role of demarcating the constituencies as required by law.

Kwizera, a former presidential advisor for the Great Lakes region from 2003 to 2010, claimed that the right number of geographical constituencies in the country currently must be 214 and not 297 which are represented in the 10th Parliament.  

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