Wednesday, July 13, 2011


What President Museveni is advocating to legislate for is partly arising out of overstay in power. The way to go is to have term limits back.
William Kituuka

By Sheila Naturinda & Mercy Nalugo

Posted Wednesday, July 13 2011 at 00:00

President Museveni will call for a national referendum to decide on the amendment of bail terms for riot suspects if Parliament throws out the proposal.

This paper has established that Mr Museveni revealed his stance on the matter when he met NRM MPs at State House, Entebbe on Monday night. “He said he will bring the proposal the next time we meet when he is ready if it doesn’t go through, the whole population would participate in the decision,” a source, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely, told this newspaper.

At the height of the walk-to-work campaign against the rising cost of living, Mr Museveni announced his new views on bail terms. The opposition-led protests left scores injured, hundreds arrested and at least 10 people dead, including a two-year-old baby girl shot in Masaka. He said protestors, rioters, rapists and economic saboteurs would be denied the right to bail and be forced to spend six months on remand, but he did not clarify what constitutes economic sabotage.

‘Discipline individuals’
Mr Museveni maintains such a constitutional amendment will “discipline” individuals undermining the country’s economy. Sources who attended the closed-door caucus told Daily Monitor that MPs were split over the matter.

Mr Henry Musasizi (Rubanda East) reportedly told the President that the proposal is unpopular and cannot be supported. Sources also said Mr Museveni was upset that his proposal was challenged and asked the caucus to organise another retreat where he would teach the lawmakers how to behave like the Eighth Parliament that never questioned his proposals.

Opposition to the proposal remains rife in Parliament. Some MPs say the crime of economic sabotage is ambiguous, while others say denial of the right to bail goes to the heart of Uganda’s justice system in which suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Article 23(6) of the Constitution provides for suspects to apply for bail which court may grant on such conditions as it considers reasonable.

The President’s proposal would, by default, punish an individual before court can be allowed to grant bail. As such, the proposal is criticised by a cross section of society, including the Uganda Law Society that insists the powers to grant or deny bail must remain a matter of judicial discretion.

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