Kutesa Challenged over Mawogola County Parliamentary Seat

1248 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Kutesa, 65, relocated to New York early this week to take on the largely ceremonial role at the UN headquarters. He temporarily relinquished his post as Foreign affairs minister but maintained his MP slot for Mawogola County. But a renowned constitutional lawyer and researcher Peter Magelah says Kutesa is now incapable of representing the electorate.

Controversy erupts over the failure by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa to relinquish his seat as a parliamentary representative for Mawogola County as he takes up the Presidency of the United Nations General Assembly.

Kutesa, 65, relocated to New York early this week to take on the largely ceremonial role at the UN headquarters. He temporarily relinquished his post as Foreign affairs minister but maintained his MP slot for Mawogola County. But a renowned constitutional lawyer and researcher Peter Magelah says Kutesa is now incapable of representing the electorate.

He explained that the continued possession of the seat by Sam Kutesa is in contravention of article 83 (1) (i) of the constitution of Uganda. The article stipulates that 83. A Member of Parliament shall vacate his or her seat in Parliament if that person is appointed a public officer.

It however does not explain if any political office out of the country is considered as such under the same constitution.  The United Nations General Assembly is the main policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations.

But Magelah observes that; “Going by the constitution, a Member of Parliament loses his seat when if he is appointed into a public office under article 83 (I). And since he ‘Kutesa’ has been appointed to represent Uganda at the UN body this means his post should be falling vacant,” he said.

//Cue in: Going by the constitution….
Cue Out: Two Salaries//
 
“Although the constitution isn’t clear how long someone should be in public offices, it doesn’t matter whether it is one year or a short period of time but it is clear one has to relinquish power,” Magelah added before adding that it is unconstitutional because Kutesa was going to draw two salaries during the period.

Parliament’s communications director Hellen Kaweesa told URN that she had been out of office and couldn’t provide a clear response on the matter.

However, URN has independently learnt that Kutesa wrote to the speaker of parliament about his stay away from Parliament. The source said the speaker had already approved his leave of absence for up to three months.

Rule 101 of the parliamentary rules of procedure states that (1) Every Member shall attend the sittings of the House unless leave of absence has been given to him or her by the Speaker and that (2)Leave of absence may be given by the Speaker to any Member who shows sufficient cause justifying his or her absence or who is away on official or Parliamentary duties.

Further still Rule 101 (6) adds that except with the permission of the Speaker, a Member shall not absent himself or herself from fifteen or more sittings of the House during any period when the House is continuously meeting.

However the same rules aren’t explicit on the number of times and the duration for which one should be accorded leave.