Parliament corners Otafiire over electoral reforms

Members of Parliament have expressed disappointment over government’s delay to table a bill for electoral reforms.

With the 2021 electioneering period in sight, MPs are worried that Parliament will not have enough time to exhaustively debate and pass the reforms.

This is after the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire told Parliament the earliest government can table the reforms is in six months.

“Within the next six months, Government intends to make final preparations relating to the establishment and appointment of the Commission and securing of the necessary funds for the activities of the Commission,” Otafiire said.

Otafiire attracted the ire of MPs with Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo leading the House in accusing the Minister of contempt of Parliament.

Ssekikubo asked Otafiire to clarify media reports that he warned Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to stop pushing government to table electoral reforms as he said this is not an urgent matter.

Kadaga joined in, “Hon Minister, is it true that you sat at your home and told me off?”

Otafiire was quick to deny accusation as he has no capacity to belittle Parliament.

” When i said i was not in a hurry, I meant that i had to consult with relevant bodies. I don’t have any iota of discrediting your capacity and judgement as a Speaker; nobody should impute that i take liberty at my house and reply to you; I hold the Speaker in very high esteem. That I Otafiire, I am superior to the people of Uganda,” Otafiire said.

He said that whereas government is not yet ready with the required reforms, a number of consultations are going on, and that government’s plan is to table the reforms after the constitution of the Constitutional Review Commission.

But Kadaga asked Otafiire not to mix electoral reforms with the Constitutional Review Commission since  electoral  reforms  were directives of the Supreme Court.

In the Amama Mbabazi Vs Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and others Presidential Election petition 2016, the Supreme Court ordered for enactment of reforms to the electoral laws within the first two and a half years of the current tenure of government.

Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba informed Parliament that if government is not ready to table the reforms, he is ready to move a private members bill to the effect.