Thursday, 19 February 2009

Was the President's Arua Speech Unconstitutional?

"If you give me 20 per cent of votes and another area gives me 90 per cent votes, then I will automatically consider the [region that offers] higher votes” - President Museveni speaking in Arua on Monday.

The implication of the words are clear: the national cake will not be divided equally and the State will discriminate against traditionally opposition areas like Arua. Unfortunately these statements are so common I tend not to notice them, but surely they should be provoking more of an outcry? Leafing through my copy of the 2006 Constitution National Objective III is very clear:

"Every effort shall be made to integrate all the peoples of Uganda while at the same time recognising the existence of their ethnic, religious, ideological, political and cultural diversity"

This is followed by National Objective XII (ii):

"The State shall take necessary measures to bring about balanced development of the different areas of Uganda and between the rural and urban areas"

I won't pretend to have had any extensive legal training but there seems little doubt the President is in breach of his own Constitution, which is under Article 2 "the supreme law of Uganda". Indeed Article 3 (4) states:

"All citizens of Uganda shall have the right and duty at all times to defend this Constitution and, in particular, to resist any person or group of persons seeking to overthrow the established constitutional order"

So who is going to stand up for the Ugandan Constitution? It is time to take a little more care of this battered and beleaguered document. Certainly it should not only be the subject of debate when Presidential term limits are discussed. The American Constitution is never out of the limelight, despite being written in 1787. On paper the Ugandan Constitution is a well designed, comprehensive expression of the rights of the people and the aims of the country. Implementation, however, is almost non-existent. When that is corrected politicians will no longer be able to get away with the type of casual threat that we saw in Arua. It should be a national priority.

1 comment:

marcelo said...

greetings from Argentina