The Constitutional Court in Kampala has ordered six MPs to vacate Parliament on grounds that they were Illegally elected in constituencies that were non-existent.
The five Justices of the court including Alphonse Owiny Dollo, Kenneth Kakuru, Cheborion Barishaki, Fredrick Engonda- Ntende and Christopher Madrama ruled in their unanimous decision 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 recognized ways of electing MPs into Parliament the affected MPs including the cabinet minister Elioda Tumwesigye Sheema (NRM Party) and JEEMA Party president Asuman Basalilwa Bugiri (JEEMA), Patrick Ochan (Apac, UPC party), ,Tarsis Rwaburindore (Ibanda, NRM party), Hashim Sulaiman (Nebbi, NRM party), and Abraham Lokii (Kotido, NRM party) were elected to parliament in non-existent constituents.
“In the circumstances of this petition, the elections that were conducted in the six municipalities are not elections envisaged in the Parliamentary Elections Act, 2005,”the judges ruled.
The judges explained that there was no vacancy existing or created in Parliament by the mere fact of creation of municipalities noting that the six MPs were not elected in any general election neither was there a by-election to have them elected into parliament.
“Under article 81 (2) where a vacancy exists in Parliament, a by election will be held within 60 days after a vacancy has occurred provided it is not less than after six months from the conclusion of general elections. No vacancy had occurred because as noted above, all 20 existing constituencies had been represented in the 2016 general elections,” the judges ruled.
According to the judges, because there was no vacant seat in parliament to warrant a by-election, the MPs for new municipalities could only have been elected in the next general elections since the areas were already represented in parliament following the 2016 general elections before the creation of the new municipalities.
“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 the 20 are not general elections or by-elections,” Justice Christopher Madrama Izama ruled.
“Secondly, the seats contested for did not have a vacancy and were already represented by the elected MPs in the general elections of 2016. In the premises, the elections already conducted in the municipalities of Apac, Sheema, Ibanda, Nebbi, Bugiri and Kotido are for non – existent 25 vacancies or seats in Parliament and cannot stand.”
Following the ruling in favour of former Bufumbira East MP Eddie Kwizera who have petitioned court, the six legislators have no chance of returning to parliament through a by-election because the court ruled that new Municipalities can only elect their representatives through a general election and the next one will only come in 2021.
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.