Tuesday, February 15, 2011



Monday, 14th February, 2011


New Vision

THE Speaker of Parliament, Edward Ssekandi, has directed 77 MPs affected by the Constitutional Court ruling to vacate their seats immediately.

Parliament spokesperson Helen Kawesa told New Vision yesterday that the members are also required to refund all the salary they had received since their nomination in November 2010. MPs receive about sh13m per month.

It was not confirmed whether the MPs would also refund the sh20m given to each of them last month to monitor government programmes.

By sending them out of Parliament, Kaweesa explained, the members would be immediately scrapped off the payroll. The MPs will also not be allowed to access the Parliament building like the public.

Ssekandi quoting article 83 1 (g) and (h) of the Constitution, said by seeking re-election on the party tickets different from those on which they were elected in 2006, the members were deemed to have lost their seats on the day of nomination.

“I have received a copy of the court judgement directing me to take note of the contents and take appropriate action. I have also received the ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter following an appeal by Hon. William Oketcho and the Attorney General upholding the Constitutional Court ruling.”

“I wish, therefore, to direct the Members of Parliament who have been affected by these decisions of the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court to vacate their seats with immediate effect,” Ssekandi said in a Febuary 11 letter to all MPs.

In a narrow escape, both Erias Lukwago and Michael Mabikke, who are contesting for the city mayorship, are not on the list of the affected MPs.

Similarly, presidential candidate Beti Kamya is also not on the list. Only MPs who are contesting for parliamentary seats after changing their party affiliations are named.

They include ministers Daniel Omara Atubo, Jennipher Namuyangu, Asuman Kiyingi, Isaac Musumba, Nsaba Buturo, Urban Tibamanya, Fred Mukisa and Henry Bagiire.

It was not immediately established whether they would lose their ministerial posts. Ministers who are not elected MPs cannot go to Parliament until the President forwards their names to the Speaker and are sworn-in as ex-officio members.

The Constitutional Court early this month ruled that it was illegal for independent MPs to stand for elections on any party ticket and also for political party MPs to contest as independents without first resigning.

The ruling is contained in a judgement in a case filed by George Owor against the Attorney General and William Okecho, the NRM flag-bearer for the West Budama North constituency.

The court ruled that any independent MP should have vacated their seat before being nominated to contest on a political party ticket.

Okecho and the Attorney General, however, petitioned the Supreme Court to stay the execution of the Constitutional Court ruling. The Supreme Court agreed to suspend the execution of the ruling, but still upheld that the MPs were illegally in Parliament.

The Supreme Court is yet to hear the appeal and rule on whether the affected MPs were lawfully nominated as candidates for the February 18 elections.

Ssekandi’s letter was copied to President Yoweri Museveni, the Vice-President, Chief Justice, deputy Speaker of Parliament, Government Chief Whip, Leader of Opposition, the Attorney General, the chairman of the Electoral Commission and the clerk to Parliament.

In an interview with New Vision on Sunday, most of the affected MPs expressed willingness to vacate their offices if the Speaker formally wrote to them asking them to quit.

Some, however, argued that they were not required to vacate office since the Supreme Court halted the execution of the Constitutional Court orders.

“The court suspended all directives to the Electoral Commission and Parliament. We are continuing with elections until court decides our fate,” MP Charles Ekemu argued.