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Saturday,September 19,2020 02:57 AM

MPs revive seven-year term for parliament

By Moses Mulondo

Added 13th August 2020 10:27 AM

MPs revive seven-year term for parliament

Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba

Longer tenure

The parliamentary legal committee based its proposal regarding the extension of their term of office on that of restoring presidential term limits

Parliament's legal committee has proposed the need to extend the term of office for all political offices to seven years.

The proposal is contained in the committee report on the Constitutional Amendment Bill which was tabled by the Opposition Attorney General, Wilfred Niwagaba.

A similar amendment was made in 2017 in which the MPs had extended their term of office to seven years, but the Constitutional Court quashed it since it was passed without following the correct procedure.

In their ruling on July 26, 2018, the justices of the Constitutional Court argued that since this was a matter of great public concern that needed public participation and endorsement, the MPs ought to have extended their tenure through a referendum.

The committee based its proposal for extending the term of office for all political positions to seven years on the proposal to restore presidential term limits.

"The committee, however, thinks that for presidential term limit to be meaningful, it has to be sufficient enough to enable the President to implement and fulfill his or her manifesto. It is the considered opinion of the committee that a term of five years is insufficient for the implementation of the manifesto in order to have a meaningful impact on the development of the country," the committee argues.

The committee notes in its report that in scrutinising a similar constitutional amendment Bill in 2017 it had received memoranda and presentations from various stakeholders who proposed that the term of President be extended from the current five years to seven.

"The committee also takes cognisant of the fact that many countries on the African content have or are in the process of extending the term of their political leaders to an average of six to eight years. These include Burundi, Egypt, Cameroun, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Gabon, Liberia, etc," the committee states.

In line with the above arguments, the committee recommends that the term of all political offices be extended from the current five years to seven.

The committee, headed by West Budama South MP Jacob Marksons Oboth, further recommended that the Government commences the process of increasing the term of all political offices to seven years in compliance with the relevant provisions of the Constitution.

Even in the minority report signed by three opposition MPs who include Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Sseggona, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda and Bugiri Municipality MP Asuman Basalirwa, they did not raise any objection to the proposal to extend the term of office  for political leaders to seven years.

Talking to New Vision yesterday, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago who was at the heart of the constitutional court petition which led to the annulment of the earlier extension said, "The committee proposal is legally untenable. Article 92 of the Constitution is very clear. Parliament has no powers to make a decision or pass a law which alters the decision of court."

He said the powers to extend the term of office for political leaders is in the hands of Ugandans as the court ruled.

Makarere University political science lecturer Prof. Sabiti Makara said: "Yes, some countries especially the former French colonies have sevenyear terms but in Commonwealth countries it is five years. I think it is driven by the desire for them to enjoy power for a long time. It has no logic at all. In some countries, the term of office is less than four years."

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