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Uganda 22 independents face ban after court petition

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Sheria (The Law Forum)' started by ByaseL, Sep 30, 2010.

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    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

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    Sep 30, 2010
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    A legal challenge to the status of some independent MPs could see them forfeit their parliamentary pay cheques and banned from the 2011 elections.
    Oyam South lawmaker, Isha Otto, in his petition filed at the High Court (case no. 134\2010) on July 24, this year, argues that the 22 independent legislators he has sued defied Article 1, 83 and 77 of the Constitution when they refused to resign from Parliament before joining other parties.
    Article 1

    Represented by Oyulu, Odonga Otto & Co. advocates, Ishaa Otto argues that Article 1 vests the power to vote in the people, Article 83 details the procedures an MP follows if he or she chooses to cross from one party to another, and Article 77 states that the term and mandate of MPs runs for five years.


    Isha Otto, a UPC member, who is battling Betty Amongi (Apac Woman) for the Oyam South seat, told The Observer that the 22 independent MPs violated the above constitutional requirements when they fully participated in various electoral activities of other parties without officially resigning from the House.


    According to his petition, Otto says that these MPs joined the 8th Parliament as independents to serve a five-year term but have since chosen to serve other parties.
    He wants court to cancel their salary and allowances from the time they jumped ship and joined other parties.


    “When they joined other parties, they stopped representing the people who elected them. I want court to command the Clerk to Parliament and the Parliamentary Commission to cancel their payments and declare their constituencies vacant,” he said.
    Saying he has no grudge against any of the concerned MPs, Otto also wants court to ban them from contesting in the forthcoming elections on the tickets of the parties they crossed to.


    His argument is that they unlawfully participated in the various party activities because they did so without officially resigning or communicating their position to their constituents and the Speaker of Parliament.
    “I am only seeking justice and the rule of law as a citizen,” Otto said.
    The hearing of the petition is set for October 4.

    Parliament has 37 independent MPs and 22 out of these are openly working with other political parties having signed memoranda of understanding or crossing to these parties.
    Odonga Otto (Aruu MP), who is representing the complainant, told The Observer that the case targets the independents who contested NRM primaries, those who contested under UPC, and those who crossed from FDC to NRM.


    He said Beti Kamya, the president of Uganda Federal Alliance and Rubaga North MP, who formerly belonged to FDC, was left out because there was no sufficient evidence to use against her.


    Recently, several independents crossed to the ruling NRM party and later participated in the party’s primary elections without resigning their seats.
     
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