The Constitutional Court in Kampala on Friday ordered six MPs to vacate Parliament on grounds that they were elected in constituencies that were non-existent.
The affected MPs are; Mr Patrick Ochan (Apac, UPC party), Dr Elioda Tumwesigye (Sheema, NRM party), Mr Tarsis Rwaburindore (Ibanda, NRM party), Mr Hashim Sulaiman (Nebbi, NRM party), Mr Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri, Jeema party) and Mr Abraham Lokii (Kotido, NRM party).
The Justices of the court in their unanimous decision, held that the elections in the aforementioned constituents/ municipalities, were conducted neither in general elections nor as a way of by-elections which are the only recognised ways of electing MPs into Parliament.
The unanimous judgment stems from an application filed by the former Bufumbira East MP, Eddie Kwizera challenging the legality of a number of constituencies created after the 2016 general elections. Kwizera argued that the six constituencies were illegally created by parliament and asked court to declare them null and void.
He also asked court to have them expunged from government records, nullify the election of the areas MPs and direct them to refund taxpayers’ money.
In his application, Kwezira argued that the resolutions of parliament creating the contested constituencies violated Articles 61(c) 63(2) and 91(1) of the Constitution. Articles 61 and 63 prescribe how Constituencies are to be created while Article 91(1) mandates parliament to make laws through bills passed and assented to by the President.
Kwizera said that parliament could only create constituencies through an Act of Parliament and a mere resolution. Now, in their judgment delivered on Friday, December 27, 2019, the constitutional court justices, noted that the elections conducted in the new municipalities were premature, null and void because there were no vacant positions.
“In the premises, I would hold that the elections conducted in the sixth affected municipalities mentioned in this judgment are not elections for an office of Member of Parliament existing under the Constitution because they are not general elections or by elections. Secondly, the seats contested for did not have a vacancy and were already represented by the elected MPs in the general elections of 2016,” said Justice Christopher Madrama.
Justice Madrama noted that the Constitution envisages that any vacancies created by division or creation of more constituencies or alteration of boundaries of constituencies shall take effect in the next general elections. He ordered that Electoral Commission within one year files in court evidence of the prescription of Parliament dividing Uganda into the number of constituencies pursuant to the mandate exercised by Parliament under Article 294 and 63 (1) of the Constitution for the next general elections.
The other justices who agreed with the majority judgment of Justice Madrama are; Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny Dollo, Cheborion Barishaki, Kenneth Kakuru and Fredrick Egonda Ntende.
The court further directed the Commission to file evidence in court indicating that it has demarcated the boundaries of constituencies in accordance with the prescription of Parliament under Article 63 at least 10 months before the next general elections. The Judges noted the fact that the affected MPs were not heard in the petition but observed that their right to a hearing wasn’t violated in anyway because what was asked of court was whether the office of MP in the contested municipalities exists in terms of a vacancy under the Constitution before the next general elections.
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