Minister of State for Urban Planning, Isaac Musumba and a number of Members of Parliament from across the political divide have drafted a constitutional amendment to include ‘Pandemic’ as another legal requirement for the declaration of a state of emergency.
This is aimed at seeking a constitutional provision to postpone the 2021 general elections over the existence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, the law is silent on what should be done which is not covered in the current constitution.
The new bill among others proses extension of the tenure of all elected leaders in the country and for all political activities to “continue uninterrupted in the transitional period.”
The bill also provides that in the event that a political position falls vacant as a result of impeachment, resignation, death or infermity during this period, that position shall not be filled.
The group including Dokolo Woman MP, Cecilia Ogwal (FDC), Igara East MP Michael Mawanda (NRM leaning Independent) and others, is already in consultation with the Legal Affairs committee of Parliament, the National Resistance Movement Caucus leadership and the opposition.
When contacted on phone, Cecilia confirmed the developments saying the coming 2021 election has been impacted by a constitutional cavity precipitated by the pandemic, which was not envisaged during framing of the 1995 Constitution.
“Let me talk to you as a senior and a member of the Constituent Assembly. We provided for a state of emergency and state of war within the country while making the constitution. We however did not realize that one day something will come beyond the control of our territorial boundaries,” said Mrs. Ogwal.
She noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible to conduct a free and fair election hence the inevitability to amend the constitution for its postponement.
“Now we need to look at the (legal) avenues to amend the articles, not entrenched, (not impacting on the other provisions of the constitution) to defer the election until the time when it is favorable to hold it,” she added.
A source in parliament administration also told ChimpReports that he is aware of the move though he is not part of the legislators agitating for it.
“Yes, there is a plan by some members to find a constitutional means to postpone the elections other than the state of emergency, which is in the behest of the President and the Cabinet. The President and the Cabinet seem not to be ready to apply the state of emergency, therefore Parliament has to create a solution within the law.” the source said.
Article 110 of the 1995 Constitution provides for the declaration of a state of emergency. The article states in part that, the President may, in consultation with the Cabinet, by proclamation, can declare a state of emergency in part or the whole of Uganda if the country is threatened by war or external aggression, when the security or the economic life of the country is threatened by internal insurgency or natural disaster or when there are factors that render necessary the taking of measures which are required for securing the public safety, the Defense of Uganda and the maintenance of public order and supplies and services essential to the life of the community.
Cecilia Ogwal noted that holding elections in the current situation is against the Constitution, which stipulates that power belongs to people.
“The critical article of the Constitution says power belongs to people and the current situation doesn’t allow the participation of everyone in the election,” said Cecilia.
Efforts to reach Musumba and Mawanda on phone were futile since they did not pick our calls.