Constitutional Review Commission to handle poll reforms

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Kampala. Government is in the final stages of establishing a constitutional review commission that will, among other things, consider electoral reforms earlier proposed ahead of the 2016 general election.
Both Parliament and the Executive were criticised for ignoring the views of Ugandans when the Executive presented and the House passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2015 without many views being considered. Civil Society Organisations, oposition political parties and others opined that passing the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2015 without the reforms was tantamount to an overthrow of the 1995 Constitution as amended.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, who was speaking at the fringes of a meeting between the National Consultative Forum and Electoral Commission yesterday, said government had not implemented the proposed reforms because of time constraints.
“There were many proposals that had been made before the elections on how to improve our system of elections and general political environment. Government in principal was in agreement, however, time constraint did not allow us to carry out legal and constitutional amendments and that is why a review commission is being put in place to carry forward the ideas and proposals that were submitted before elections and new ideas that may come up now so that we can formally put them in the constitutional framework of the country,” he said.
Previous commissions chaired by Prof Frederick Edward Sempebwa and former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki have made a number of recommendations, some of which have never been implemented todate despite overwhelming public support.
Meanwhile, major Opposition parties have continued to snub the National Consultative Forum (NCF) which is supposed to bring together registered political parties.
A source privy to the operation of the organisation who declined to be named, told Saturday Monitor that some individual members of FDC and DP sometimes attend the NCF meetings but not regularly.

Parties withdraw
In 2015, major Opposition parties, including FDC, DP and the then Olara Otunnu-led UPC that had formed “The Democratic Alliance” ahead of the 2016 polls resolved to withdraw from the NCF after all options to dialogue on electoral reforms with the ruling NRM party had hit a dead end.
“It is not correct that any of the political parties has withdrawn or threatened to withdraw from the National Consultative Forum. They are all actively involved. In fact more meetings have been chaired by my brother Amanya Mushega, so they are fully participating,” he said.
Dr Rugunda cited Mr Michael Orach Osinde, the spokesperson of the Jimmy Akena led Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) group, among those involved in the organisation. He added that former DP secretary general Mathias Nsubuga, who passed on recently, had been the official representative of DP in the organisation.

Criticism

Both Parliament and the Executive were criticised for ignoring the views of Ugandans when the Executive presented and the House passed the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2015 without many views being considered. Civil Society Organisations, oposition political parties and others opined that passing the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2015 without the reforms was tantamount to an overthrow of the 1995 Constitution as amended.

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