Mr. Kiryowa Kiwanuka, the Attorney General, said on Sunday that his legal interpretation, which requires the immediate election of a substantive Speaker of Parliament to replace the late Jacob Oulanyah even before his burial, was correct.
Mr Kiryowa refuted the claims of a group of attorneys who claimed the administration had misread the legislation and rushed to pick a new Speaker over the weekend.
“There are a few things we need to grasp about the Constitution. The Rules of Parliament that the attorneys were citing do not modify the Constitution.” They simply interpret the Constitution. As a result, anyone who uses the Rules to interpret the Constitution is incorrect, because the Constitution is the supreme law,” Mr Kiryowa added.
On the weekend, attorney Nicholas Opiyo turned to social media to argue that the term “Speaker” in Parliament’s Rules of Procedure encompasses the position of deputy Speaker, hence there was no vacancy following Oulanyah’s death.
“Was there a vacancy in the Speaker’s office when Jacob died?” I believe that a broader view of the Rules of Procedure’s interpretative language would indicate that it was not, because the title Speaker includes the deputy. “It was unnecessary to rush to vote,” Opiyo tweeted.
“The Constitution’s interpretation articles and the Rules of Procedure appear to draw a distinction between the Speaker’s position and the Speaker’s office,” he continued. The deputy Speaker, in my opinion, is part of the position. In other words, the Speaker’s office is not the Speaker’s office.”
According to Article 82 (4) of the Constitution, no business shall be done in Parliament except an election to the post of Speaker when that office is vacant.
The term “Speaker” is defined under Section 2 (1) of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament as the Speaker of Parliament, as well as the Deputy Speaker.
Mr Kiryowa, on the other hand, advised individuals who disagreed with his interpretation to file a case with the Constitutional Court, which has the primary responsibility of clarifying any ambiguous portions of the Constitution.
“They can go to court and fight the Attorney General’s opinion.” Speaker and deputy speaker are constantly used by the architects of the Constitution in Article 82 sub sections 1,2,3. Mr Kiryowa said, “They had all the ink to say the same thing in sub section 4, but they were deliberate and only stated the word office of the Speaker.”
President Museveni cautioned the victors to throw victory celebrations after the election of Ms Anita Among as Oulanyah’s successor on Friday last week, saying the country was still mourning Oulanyah.
“I implore you not to rejoice; we are in mourning, and this election should not have taken place, but the law necessitates it.” It’s insane to hold this election while Oulanyah is still alive. “People may mistake us for witches,” Mr Museveni said.
“It is a severe abomination in Ankole to perform activities of this sort while mourning,” he continued. I encourage all stakeholders to examine this law closely in order to improve it.”
Mr Kiryowa said affirmatively when asked if the Constitution should be amended to address the problem of rushing to replace a Speaker who dies in office before being buried.
“Imagine if we had a Speaker who professed Islam and demanded that people be buried on the day they died.” Would we have been able to elect a new Speaker before he was buried?” He stated his case.