The Women’s Democracy Network (WDN-U) in Uganda has shunned declined to appear before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to submit its views on the controversial Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017.
This brings to three the number of organizations, which have declined to appear before the same committee that is conducting public hearings on the controversial Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017 that seeks to among other things to scrap the presidential age limit.
The others are the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda- IRCU, Makerere University Law Dons and former Prime Minister, Professor Apollo Nsibambi. WDN-U was expected to appear on Monday morning following an invitation from the Committee Chairperson, Jacob Oboth-Oboth.
But Perry Aritua, the WDN-U Executive Director wrote to the Committee Chairperson on October 31, saying they are unable to appear before the Committee over the bill. She cited difficulty in getting police protection for their consultations on the Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017 as one of the challenges that have constrained WDN-U from conducting consultations on the Bill to come up with a position.
She explained that her organization usually consults women at various levels to ensure integration of substantive voices on bills before parliament, which hasn’t been possible. Aritua also cited the incidents in parliament on September 27th 2017 that preceded the tabling of the motion, which ultimately resulted in the Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017.
Plain clothed security personnel believed to be members of the elite Special Force Command stormed the parliamentary chambers from the president’s office and assaulted legilslators opposed to the move to the proposed scrapping of the presidential age limit.
WDN-U also says that the Private Member’s Bill tabled by the Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi doesn’t take into account Uganda’s history that is enumerated in the constitution.
“The preamble of Uganda’s Constitution as you are aware provides the justification for the provisions of the Constitution including Article 102b. The lack of recognition for the preamble of Uganda’s Constitution by the Bill especially the clause on Article 102 (b) therefore makes it impossible for the WDN-U to appear before your committee.” reads part of the letter.
WDN-U says they together with other women organisation appeared before the same committee on May 8th 2015 and presented proposed Constitutional Amendment from a gender perspective under the auspice of Women’s Democracy Group (WDG).
“WDN-U and different organizations had hoped this and other proposals would guide the 10th Parliament as it reviews various proposals for Constitutional Amendment through an omnibus Constitutional Amendment Bill as the Speaker of Parliament advised then and in one of the sittings of the 10th Parliament in September 2016.” further reads the letter.
The organizations included among others Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Center for Women in Governance (CEWIGO) and Action for Development (ACFODE).