The Legal and Parliamentary affairs committee has declined to receive views from the Citizen’s Coalition on Electoral Democracy-CCEDU on the proposed electoral reform bills citing procedure matters.
Both the electoral commission amendment bill 2013 and the constitution amendment bill 2013, which contain electoral reforms are yet to be tabled in parliament.
The Electoral Commission amendment bill 2013 seeks to amend the Electoral Commission Act to rename and reconstitute the commission. The constitution amendment bill also seeks to rename and reconstitute the electoral commission as the independent Electoral Commission, to provide for the process of identifying and selecting persons who may be appointed as members of the commission and to provide for the independence and impartiality of the commission.
Recently, CCEDUwrote to the committee seeking a meeting to explain to them the contents and the justification for the two bills. However, the Legal and Parliamentary affairs committee turned down the request saying discussing bills that have not been tabled officially in parliament violates the parliamentary rules of procedure.
Stephen Tashobya, the committee chairperson a delegation from CCEDU that they would only discuss the bills after they have been referred to the committee by the speaker as provided for under rule 187 of the rules of procedure.
Livingstone Sewanyana, the executive director Foundation for Human Rights Initiative who led the delegation concurred with the committee saying that they are aware of the rules of procedure and that they had come to sensitize the committee. Tashobya however advised Ssewanyana to organize a workshop for MPs to sensitize them about the bills and the need for electoral reforms.
Sewanyana agreed saying they would engage the Attorney General on how and when the bills will be tabled in parliament adding that if he (AG) is not ready, his group will introduce the bills as private members bills.
The group argues that the existing laws which give the president the powers to appoint and disappoint electoral commissioners erodes denies the electoral body of the much needed impartiality.