The Constitutional Court in Kampala has ordered six Members of Parliament (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.
“In the premises, I would hold that elections conducted in the six affected municipalities mentioned in the 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 elected MPs in the general elections of 2016,” held Justice Christopher Madrama who wrote the lead judgment.
He continued: ” In the premises, the elections already conducted in the municipalities of Apac, Sheema, Ibanda, Nebbi, Bugiri and Kotido are non-existent vacancies or seats in Parliament and cannot stand. I would find that article 61 (1) b that places a duty on the second respondent (Electoral Commission ) to conduct elections in accordance with the constitution, it’s duty is to ensure that each county is represented in Parliament as stipulated by article 62 (2) of the constitution and can only be exercised where there is a vacancy. Vacancies would occur in the municipalities of Apac, Sheema, Ibanda, Nebbi, Bugiri and Kotido with necessary demarcation by the second respondent (EC) and would be available for contest in the next general elections upon dissolution of the sitting parliament or unless any particular existing seat becomes vacant under articles 83 and 84 of the constitution.”
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 also emphasized that no seat in Parliament can be created after the general elections have been conducted.
“It follows that the sovereignty of the people can only be exercised through the elections envisaged in the Constitution. No seats should be created by creating more constituencies after general elections have been held and concluded for members of parliament except in accordance with the constitution,” the court observed.
The petition had been filed by former Bufumbira East MP Eddie Kwizera.
He argued that creation of the six municipalities was done without the involvement of the Electoral Commission and yet one of its crucial mandate under Article 63 is to demarcated boundaries of constituencies.
Based on this, the petitioner had argued that Parliament can only create constituencies through an Act of Parliament and not by a mere resolution.