Speaker Anita Among has adjourned Parliament sittings to an unknown date over the impasse of Local Council (LC) elections.
“I am not going to continue on something that is an illegality. Government must advise the country on the way forward. We need a position of government, not to continue speculating,” Among said while presiding over the plenary sitting on Thursday, 20 July 2023.
The term of office of LC I and LCII chairpersons expired on 10 July 2023, and since then, MPs have raised concern, saying that the absence of the local leaders has caused crises in villages.
Government extended the term of office of the LCs but the Speaker challenged government to present a statutory instrument for an extension, to ensure it is lawful.
The Speaker’s decision to adjourn the House followed a statement by the Attorney General, Kiwanuka Kiryowa.
“Government would like to assure the public that the apparent void created by the absence of these administrative units is being handled,” he said.
Kiwanuka Kiryowa added: “As we pursue and wait for the necessary Cabinet and Parliamentary approvals therefore, the immediate recently elected leadership of the administrative units should continue rendering the necessary services to the people in observance of the spirit and principle of the Constitution that there should never be a vacuum in leadership.”
His attempt to justify the mandate of the administrative units, citing Sections 45 and 175 of the Local Government’s Act as well as the third schedule, regulation 11 was rejected by legislators.
The Shadow Attorney General, also Ndorwa County East Member of Parliament, Hon. Wilfred Niwagaba, said that whilst LCs are merely administrative units, they have quasi-judicial functions which are clearly stipulated in the Local Council Courts Act, 2006.
“The expiry of term of those administrative units implies that the quasi-judicial function of those units cannot be dispensed with when their term has expired and there is no way you can apply to extend an already expired term,” said Niwagaba.
He added that even if the expired term is extended, it cannot apply in the Local Council Courts Act.
“Unless they want to completely remove the quasi-judicial functions from these administrative units and then say they are going to extend in respect of the functions of only administrative units excluding the quasi-judicial functions then we do not even need those units there,” Niwagaba said.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Mathias Mpuuga, cast doubt on government’s commitment to resolve the impasse.
“The Attorney General said he was aware that the term expired and since last week, we have been demanding for clarity and the Attorney General is now bidding for more time,” said Mpuuga.
ANSWERS: AG Kiwanuka Kiryowa had a hard time convincing MPs about the status of LC officials whose term of office expired