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Day March 24, 2012

PRESIDENTIAL TERM LIMITS TO BE RE-INSTATED THRU REFERENDUM, UGANDAN DIASPORA TO VOTE, FEDERALISM TO BE ADOPTED


During their seating on Tuesday 20 March 2012, the Uganda Federal Alliance National Executive Committee (NEC) considered the following:

1.       After NEC’s previous Resolution to evoke Article 74 of the Constitution of Uganda to cause a change of Uganda’s political system from Unitarism to federalism through a National referendum, a delegation of UFA officials met the EC for technical guidance on the necessary modalities, which lead to the following observations:

 

  • Federalism as an optional system or form of governance is not provided for anywhere in the Constitution of Uganda, although it has been the most contentious issue in Uganda’s politics since the 1966 crisis that kicked off Uganda’s instability and turmoil.

 

  • The Constitutional process that would get federalism recognized as an option in Uganda’s governance systems is long, winding and unfriendly, passing via Article 69 of the Constitution, The Other Political System’s Act 2000, Parliament (where UFA does not have representation) and through the Referendum Act.

 

  • Presidential Term Limits is an equally contentious issue.  We must take advantage of the impending referendum on federalism to vote on re-instatement presidential term limits, on the same day, as provided for under the Referendum and Other Provisions Act.  However,  this dual referendum cannot work under Article 74 because it provides for only “Change of Political Systems” yet, it can work under Article 255 of the Constitution because this provides for “General Referenda” and can cover multiple issues.

 

  • Moreover, Article 74 has more work to do, requiring 10% registered voters from 2/3 of all constituencies (i.e. 183 constituencies) to petition the EC to hold a referendum. On the other hand, Article 255 requires much less work, requiring 10% of registered voters from 1/3 of districts (i.e. 39 districts) to petition the EC to hold a referendum. In Uganda, there are more than 39 single constituency districts. Compared to Article 74, Article 255 reduces the work of collecting petitioners’ signatures by four!

Based on these and other consideration, UFA NEC resolved to use Article 255 which provides for “General Referenda on any issue” to petition the EC to organize referenda on FEDERALISM & RE-INSTATEMENT OF PRESIDENTIAL TERM LIMITS on the same day.

 

2.       Secondly, UFA demanded that the EC organizes for the Ugandan Diaspora to vote during the forthcoming referenda and thereafter during all elections, as provided for under Article 59 &61 of the Constitution. The EC responded in writing that the Diaspora issue was “a Policy matter, not established by the
Commission, and a mechanism backed by law needs to be put in place to facilitate their (Diaspora) participation, including amendments to some electoral laws..”. In short, the EC will not arrange for the Diaspora to vote because, according to the EC,  it is Govt Policy is not to allow them to vote….hence, there are no adequate laws to facilitate that!

 

In our view, the right of the Ugandan Diaspora to vote is not a “Policy matter” as the EC says, but a Constitutional matter. Article 59 provides for the right of citizens aged eighteen and above to vote and Article 62 provided for the independence of the EC during the discharge of their functions. If the EC have subjected their independence to the Executive and denied citizens living abroad their right to vote, they must face the law. UFA Resolved to arraign them before the Courts of law on account of violating the citizen’s rights to vote, neglect of duty and violating Article 62 that provides for the independence of the EC.

Keep watching this space.

Signed,

 

Beti Olive Kamya

President

Uganda Federal Alliance

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U @ 50 BONANZA – FEDERALISM, TERM LIMITS, DIASPORA VOTE, ALL POSSIBLE IN JUBILLEE YEAR!


U@50 BONANZA – FEDERALISM, TERM LIMITS, and DIASPORA VOTE, ALL IN ONE YEAR…….!

I am glad that UFA’s resolution to evoke Article 74 of the Constitution to petition the Electoral Commission to hold a referendum on federalism has generated a lot of debate, enabling us to upgrade the product (referendum) previously offered under the said Article 74. A meeting between UFA and the EC at our initiative to seek technical guidance on modalities necessary to move our resolution forward, lead to the following observations:

  • Federalism is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution of Uganda, as an optional system, as some systems are mentioned, although it has been contentious in Uganda’s politics since the 1966 crisis that kicked off Uganda’s instability.

 

  • The Constitutional process that would get federalism recognized as a political system in order to enable Article 74 is long, winding and unfriendly, passing via Article 69 of the Constitution, The Other Political System’s Act, Parliament (where UFA does not have representation) and the Referendum And Other Provisions’ Act.

 

  • Federalism is not the only contentious matter in Uganda, “Presidential Term Limits” is equally contentious, so, we must take advantage of the impending referendum on federalism to vote on re-instatement of presidential term limits, on the same day. The Referendum and Other Provisions Act provides for multiple referenda on a single day.  However, multiple referenda do not work under Article 74 because it provides for one referendum only, on “Change of Political Systems”. Multiple referenda work under Article 255 of the Constitution because it provides for referenda on “any issue”.

 

  • Moreover, Article 74 is a lot of work, requiring 10% of registered voters from 2/3 of constituencies (i.e. 153 constituencies) as petitioners. On the other hand, Article 255 is less work, requiring petitioners to be 10% of registered voters from 1/3 of districts (i.e. 39 districts). In Uganda, there are more than 39 single constituency districts, so, compared to Article 74, Article 255 reduces the work of collecting petitioners’ signatures by four!

Based on these considerations, UFA resolved to use Article 255 which provides for “Referenda generally” to petition the EC to organize referenda on FEDERALISM & RE-INSTATEMENT OF PRESIDENTIAL TERM LIMITS on the same day.

Secondly, UFA demanded that the EC organizes for the Ugandan Diaspora to vote during the forthcoming referenda and all elections. The EC responded in writing that voting of the Ugandan Diaspora was “a Policy matter, not established by the Commission, and a mechanism backed by law needs to be put in place to facilitate their (Diaspora) participation, including amendments to some electoral laws..”. In short, the EC will not arrange for the Diaspora to vote because, according to them,  it is Govt Policy not to allow them to vote….hence, the absence of required electoral laws…..!

 

BUT the right of the Ugandan Diaspora to vote is not a “Policy matter” as the EC says, but a Constitutional matter. Article 59 provides for the right of all citizens aged eighteen to vote, Article 61 provides for the mandate of the EC to facilitate that right, Article 62 provides for the independence of the EC during the discharge of their functions and Article 21 provides for equality and freedom from discrimination. If the EC willfully holds the Constitution in contempt by neglecting its duty, discriminating amongst Ugandans, subjecting its independence to the Executive and denying citizens living abroad their right to vote, it must face the law. UFA Resolved to arraign the EC before Court on the above accounts.

Signed,

Beti Olive Kamya, President, Uganda Federal Alliance

RESPONDING TO GAWAYA TEGULLE ON REFERENDUM THROUGH ARTICLE 74


HURRAY! UNDER ARTICLE 255 WE CAN HAVE BOTH FEDERALISM AND PRESIDENTIAL TERM LIMITS ON A SINGLE DAY

Since Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) announced the Party’s resolution to settle the federal (federo) question through a National Referendum by evoking Article 74 of the Constitution, several people have voiced critical opinions, the latest of whom was journalist Gawaya Tegulle in The Daily Monitor of 21 March, 2012, in an article titled “Beti Kamya’s ‘referendum’ on federalism is misconceived”. They argue that not being a political system but rather an administrative system, federalism cannot be debated and settled under Article 74 of the Constitution of Uganda, the Article being a preserve of “Change of Political Systems…” which federalism is not, according to Article 69 of the Constitution of Uganda. I agree with them to a large extent, although the argument can take many turns and twists, including seeking the Constitutional Court’s arbitration on the meaning of “political system”, Article 69 of the constitution of Uganda notwithstanding.

My concern, though, is whether their arguments carry the federal controversy closer to its conclusion or just hold it stagnant, at the status quo.

“Where there is the Will, there is a Way” is an old adage, so for the sake of argument, if Article 74 is not the way to settling this federal age-old argument, surely, another way must be found. In everyday life, if one does not wish to do something or to go to some destination they decry “…insecurity, bad roads, inadequate resources, ill-health, wild animals..” – anything to discourage fellow travelers taking the journey, but those determined to go will propose alternatives that encourage the group to get going.

Typically, the anti-referendum group do not propose even a lousy alternative to UFA’s proposal. Their adamant “CAN’T” is loud and clear but not their alternative proposal apart from the traditional “asking” President Museveni to “give’ it…., not caring that “giving” is not provided for in the Constitution!

Determined to move beyond presidential whims, UFA combed the political map of Uganda, the Constitution, and found that under Article 255, calling for a referendum on “any issue” is not only shorter, cheaper and friendlier than under Article 74, but actually, several matters can be settled through multiple referenda held on a single day. We have therefore re-visited our earlier resolution to evoke Article 74 and resolved to instead evoke Article 255, which allows multiple referenda on a single day. Hurray!, we are now going to hit two birds with one stone, by holding two referenda, on the same day, on: (i) Change of system to federalism (ii) Re-instate Article a limit on the number of terms that the president of Uganda may hold office.

During the Odoki Commission Constitution making exercise, many Ugandans expressed preference for federalism as their system of choice. There was also consensus that the president of Uganda may not hold office for more than two terms. When these two important issues that had received resounding public support were subjected to a few people in the CA and the 7th Parliament, the peoples’ views were not reflected in the final documents. It is for that matter that UFA resolved to re-table the two contentious matters before the people, through a referendum, under Article 255.

I call upon Ugandans to fine tune their attitude and realize that there are many constitutional avenues available to settle contentious issues, without necessarily always awaiting the next election.

Beti Olive Kamya

President

Uganda Federal Alliance

0783 438 201 / 0751 590 542

ufapresident@gmail.com


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