The Parliamentarian 2019: Uganda Supplement

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INSTITUTIONALISATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF POLITICAL PARTIES’ PARTICIPATION IN PARLIAMENT

INSTITUTIONALISATION AND ENHANCEMENT OF POLITICAL PARTIES’ PARTICIPATION IN THE UGANDA PARLIAMENT ‘Adaption, engagement and evolution of Parliaments in a rapidly changing Commonwealth.’

Hon. Aol Betty Ocan, MP is the

Leader of the Opposition in the Tenth Parliament (July 2018 - June 2021); she has been a Member of Parliament since 2006.

Multiparty politics was introduced in Uganda during the transition from colonial rule to independence. However, with the promulgation of the new Constitution in 1995, Uganda was declared a no-party state in a bid to curb sectarian tendencies that were associated with multiparty politics. During this time, political parties, particularly Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and Democratic Party (DP), existed, but were not allowed to campaign or engage in political party activities. This, in a way limited political participation and choice. Through a national referendum held in 2005, there was a rebirth of multiparty politics in Uganda. In the same year, the multiparty political system was legitimised through the Political Parties and Organisations Act, 2005. It is on this basis that the number of political parties are registered in Uganda. However, not all the registered parties are represented in Parliament. Representation of the Opposition in Parliament As of 29 March 2019, political parties were registered by the Electoral Commission. Out of these, only five of them are represented in Parliament (at present, the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) and four Opposition political parties including: The Forum

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for Democratic Change (FDC), the Democratic Party (DP), the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) and the Justice Forum (JEEMA). Since the rebirth of multiparty politics in the Eighth Parliament, representation of Opposition political parties in Parliament has been largely stable but varying in numbers. The FDC, DP, UPC and JEEMA have been consistently represented in the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Parliaments. The Conservative Party (CP) was represented in the Eighth and Ninth Parliaments but is not represented in the Tenth Parliament. Suffice to note that in all the three Parliaments, the percentage representation of the Opposition as compared to the ruling party has been declining from 27% in the Eighth Parliament to 20% in the current Tenth Parliament, while the number of Independent Members of Parliament has been gradually rising and exceeds that of the largest Opposition political party in Parliament. The Opposition Leadership in Parliament The leadership of the Opposition in Parliament was re-institutionalised following constitutional amendments that led to the establishment of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) in Parliament. The amendment of

the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda in 2005 (Article 82A), and the Administration of Parliament (Amendment) Act, 2006 (Section6A-6G, 6I–6J), led to the creation of the offices of: the Leader of the Opposition (LOP), the Shadow Cabinet, the Chief Opposition Whip and the Opposition Party Whips in the Parliament of Uganda. The prevailing legal framework empowers the Opposition in Parliament, led by the LOP with the principal role of keeping the Government in check and articulating alternatives to Government policies or positions. This is achieved, among others, through technical support from staff employed in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition (LOP), and the Rules of Procedure of Parliament. Establishment of the Office of the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) The Office of the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) was established in Parliament at the inception of the Eighth Parliament (20062011). The Office draws its existence from Article 82A(1), which states that, “Under the multi-organisations or multiparty form of democracy, there shall be, in Parliament, a Leader of the Opposition,” and Part IIA of the Administration of the Parliament (Amendment) Act, 2006, which