Ugandan MPs, journalists not happy with delay to access electoral bills

Ugandan MPs, journalists not happy with delay to access electoral bills
The Parliament of Uganda in session

Kampala, Uganda | URN | Members of Parliament and some journalists have failed to access the recently tabled Electoral Reforms, copies of which have not reached them due to what officials said was an email glitch.

Government on Thursday 25th tabled the long-awaited proposed electoral reforms which had generated a lot of interest and controversies, but whose details are not known.

The Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige says that the bill couldn’t be availed because of internet problem.

“Yes it is true we have a problem with the network but the bill is there,” Kibirige told this publication on phone.

She says that the reforms will be uploaded on Parliament’s website on Monday.

Attorney General William Byaruhanga tabled Government’s five proposals, including; the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill No.17, 2019, and the Parliamentary Elections (Amendment) Bill No.18, 2019.

Others are; the Electoral Commission (Amendment) Bill No. 19, 2019, the Political Parties and Organization (Amendment) Bill No. 20, 2019 and the Local Governments (Amendment) Bill No.21, 2019.

When a bill is tabled for first reading, MPs are provided copies for easy reference. It is also a culture for the bills tabled before Parliament to be forwarded to the Parliament Library and also uploaded on the Parliament website. However, this was not the case for the tabled reforms.

This publication has established that the five bills were of one copy each and only handed to the speaker of Parliament. Media reports also suggest that the bills are not ready for the public.

In an attempt to get the bills from the Parliament Communications offices and Library, a source at the Communications and Public Affairs Office (CPA) said they have been trying to get access of the reforms bill in vain.

“The Attorney General laid on table only a single copy of the five proposals, and that means there are no extra copies”. The source said as Parliament press, they hoped to publish an article on the website but they couldn’t.

Several Members of Parliament complained that despite having waited for long for the bill, it is not in their pigeon holes where they usually get copies.

The Shadow Attorney-General and Ndorwa East MP Wilfred Niwagaba, says that he tried to access the bill in vain.

He said they are ideally supposed to have a copy of the bill. He adds that the staff at the Attorney General’s chambers told him to go back next week.

Cyrus Aogon, the Kumi Municipality MP said he wanted to read the bill throughout the weekend, but he was told the bill was not yet available.

Journalists also roamed around Parliament to try and get a copy of the bill but in vain.

However, some sources say the bill presented by Government may not be ready.

“It could only be an outline or dummy, we have not seen it,” a highly placed source told our reporter.

The Leader of Opposition, Betty Aol Ochan says that she wanted to have a look at the bill, but was told that it was not yet there.

Muwanga Kivumbi the Butambala MP has stringent proposals especially curtailing independent candidates, and also restrictions on members who intend to quit a party. He says the proposal also seeks to ensure members of security forces vote earlier so they can freely safeguard the elections.

Kivumbi also says that political parties will not be allowed to align with pressure groups among others.