Uganda's army MPs

Uganda has elections in 2016 and there is currently 10 members representing the Ugandan defence force in parliament.

Uganda's army MPs

World Bulletin / News Desk

With only nine months left until 2016 general polls, opposition parties and civil society figures want proposed constitutional amendments to tackle the contentious issue of special-interest representation in parliament, particularly when it comes to the army.

"We want the word 'army' deleted among parliament representatives," Wandera Ogaalo, a lawyer for the Forum for Democratic Change, Uganda's largest opposition party, told Anadolu Agency.

The opposition is calling for the amendment of Article 78 Clause (c) of the country's 1995 Constitution.

The article stipulates that parliament have one female representative for every district and special representation for the army, youth, workers, persons with disabilities, and other groups. 

The current parliament contains ten representatives of the Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF); 238 constituency representatives; 112 female district representatives; five youth representatives; five representatives of persons with disabilities; five workers' representatives; and 13 ex-officio members.

Ogaalo insists that, by removing army representation from parliament, "we would be exempting it from partisan politics.

"In a multiparty dispensation, we are opening the army to a very dangerous position," he said.

"We are robbing it of one essential quality – the quality that the army must be subordinate to every civilian authority in perpetuity," said the opposition activist.

"I am not aware of any parliament in the world where the army elects representatives to sit in parliament," he added.

Army representation in Uganda's parliament began in 1994.

Representatives are chosen by the Army Council, which includes all members of the Army High Command; persons who had served as senior army officers on January 26, 1986; all directors of military services; commanding officers of brigades and battalions; and officers commanding equivalent military units.

Uganda's Army Council is chaired by President Museveni.

The government's justification for having the army represented in parliament is that it should be involved in the country's political process in order to guarantee stability.

With only nine months left before general elections, a legal and parliamentary affairs committee – led by Chairperson Stephen Tashobya – is debating the Constitutional Amendments Bill, which was tabled by the government in late April.

The bill seeks to change the name of the country's official electoral commission to the "Independent Electoral Commission," restructure the electoral body, and lay down procedures for removing commission members.

It further seeks to raise the retirement age for justices and judges; allow the Judicial Service Commission to appoint certain judicial staff; provide corporate status for the Inspectorate of Government; and establish a Salaries and Remuneration Board, among other things.

But the proposed legislative changes related to the electoral body remain the most contentious, especially as Uganda gears up for 2016 general elections.

Opposition parties and civil society groups have recommended 17 amendments to the legal and parliamentary affairs committee for consideration, including scrapping the army's parliamentary representation.

On March 2, Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga received the text of 17 proposed electoral reforms, which were agreed upon by an "Inter-Party Organization for Dialogue."

The organization is comprised of all of the country's political parties – including Museveni's ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) – along with the National Consultative Forum of Civil Society Organizations, which was drawn up specifically to negotiate proposed electoral reforms with the government.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Mayıs 2015, 11:11