Uganda defies court ruling on special interest groups

The tabling of a motion intended to retain special interest groups in the Uganda parliament for army, youth and workers’ representatives, is brewing controversy, with the executive being accused of disrespecting other arms of government.

The Constitutional Court ruled on September 30 that the laws governing the army, youth and workers MPs — three of the five special interest groups in parliament — are unconstitutional.

The Court also imposed an injunction barring the government and the Electoral Commission from conducting further elections for representatives of the three groups. 
The ruling did not affect two other groups, women and persons with disabilities.

On November 10, Attorney General Fredrick Ruhindi moved a motion in parliament for a review of these groups’ representation as articulated under the Parliamentary Elections Act 2005 and rules of procedures of parliament.

“The review is due because it was carried out last in December 2005. It is imperative that the review is done by parliament in light of the upcoming General Election,” said Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kahinda Otafiire.

Speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga referred the motion to the Legal Affairs Committee for scrutiny but some legislators are gearing up to challenge it when it comes before the House for debate.

“Parliament should not be used to undermine other arms of government,” said legislator Wilfred Niwagaba.