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MPs Reject Extension of Political Term to 7 Years, Reinstate Presidential Term Limits

Parliament of Uganda: The Ugandan Members of Parliament have strongly rejected the proposal to increase the political term of elected political leaders from five to seven and also unanimously supported the reinstatement of presidential term limits.

The debate on the report from the Legal Committee which scrutinized the private members Bill, sponsored by the Shadow (Opposition) Attorney General, Winfred Niwagaba, started on Tuesday.

The committee chaired by the West Budama South county MP, Jacob Oboth Oboth recommended that the Presidential term limits be restored as proposed in clause 11 of the Bill and the term of all political officers be extended from 5 to 7 years.

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“The Committee noted that the restoration of term limits was demanded by all stakeholders who had appeared before it. The Committee further noted that restoration of term limits was an international best practice for most democratic countries both in Africa and the world,” said part of the report.

Niwagaba has however said the committee resolution on 7-year term extension was smuggled to his Bill since he didn’t propose anything about it.

All MPs who contributed on the matter rejected the term extension and others supported Niwagaba’s assertion that the proposal was “smuggled”.

“I have looked at all the memorandums presented by stakeholders who appeared before the committee and none of them proposed the increase of the term. It is therefore right to say that the legal and Parliamentary Committee smuggled the clause providing for the increase of terms of MPs from 5 to 7 years,” said Richard Othieno Okoth of West Budama County.

Othieno, however, supported the restoration of term limit saying it will guarantee peace and stability in the country.

The Erute North Member of Parliament, Angiro Gutomoi demanded the Committee of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should be made to apologize and withdraw the proposal to increase the term of Parliament other civil servants from five to seven years.

Meanwhile, the Kilak North MP, Gilbert Olanya instead called for the reduction of the current 5 years to 4 years like in the United States.

“The proposal by the Legal and Parliamentary Committee to re -introduce the 7 year term for all elected officials including MPs was brought in bad faith. Parliament should instead consider reducing the term of elected leaders including MPs and the President from 5 to 4 years,” said Olanya.

The Buhweju County MP Francis Mwijukye said the removal of term limit in 2005 was a “wrong” move.

“I support the proposal to reinstate the term limits and we should agree it was wrong to remove it in the first place. The proposal to increase term limits for the MPs and other elected officials is immortal and should be rejected in the strongest terms possible,” said Mwijukye.

Workers MP Agnes Kunihira said the term restrictions to two should be applied to elected positions including Parliament and local government.

“Term limits should also apply to other elective positions including MPs and local governments and not be tagged to the presidency only. I know some of my colleagues who have been here as long as the president they talk about,” said Kunihira.

The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ephraim Kamuntu raised objection against the consideration of the report of the committee saying it has it imposes a burden on the consolidated fund but he was overruled by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, who presided over the House.

The debate on the matter continues today Wednesday.

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