Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Court ‘orders’ 70 Legislators disqualified

It has been reported that the Ugandan Constitutional Court on the 31st of Jnauary 1 ruled that ''it is illegal for independent MPs to stand for elections on any party ticket and also for political party MPs to contest as independents.'' The report indicates that ''the court ruled that any independent MP should have vacated their seat before being nominated to contest on a political party ticket.'' Further, that ''an MP who was elected on a political party ticket in the previous election, should also have vacated their seat before contesting again as an independent.'' See Court ‘orders’ 70 Legislators disqualified also Court throws out 70 MPs from polls

I appreciate the finding of the Court in so far as one should resign (or 'vacate the seat' as stated in the Constitution)when one's political leanings change. However this should only apply during the current term of Parliament referred to and in this case, the '8th Parliament'. However I am not in agreement with the finding of the Court that the subsequent nominations for the next parliament are null and void.

This is because my reading of the Article 83 doesnt seem to suggest this. In my view, this is also what Moses Serwanga seems to be opining when he states that 'the candidates for seats in the next parliament therefore need not to resign as per article 83 as declared by court.' see

To put it colloquially, how can they resign from a parliament that is not yet in existence? If the effect of this judgement is to disqualify the 70 MPs who have been nominated, doesn't that give an unfair advantage to their opponents? or worsestill, what happens in situations where such MP/candidate stands unopposed? Does the disqualification of such candidate mean that the constituency will not be represented in the next Parliament? If not, doesnt it mean that such candiate will be entitled to run again - albeit having resigned from the 8th Parliament which will have more or less concluded its term of office?

In my opinion therefore, (which is unfortunately based on reading the newspaper reports and the law but not the judgement itself) is that the effect of the judgement, if allowed to stand, would mean that we re-do the elections at least for those 70+ constituencies. However my opinion might change when i read the full judgement although i doubt it

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