In what seems to be a throwback to the 1980s Constitutional framework, there are plans in Uganda to amend the Constitution and adopt a parliamentary system, in which Parliament forms the electoral college that elects the president.
This would be a departure from the practice by other member states of the EAC that have a presidential system, in which a president is elected through universal suffrage.
The plan to amend the law, recently made public by a pro-ruling party group, also brings back a seven-year term for parliament as a quid pro quo inducement to the lawmakers to pass the amendment and give themselves a longer stay in the House.
“We have a proposal to amend electoral laws and other legislation to pave way for a hybrid parliamentary system where the head of government, who also doubles up as the Head of State, is elected by parliament and local government councils,” said Felix Adupa Ongwech, the leader of the Transformer Cadres Association of Uganda at a press briefing.
The 1995 Constitution makers rejected the Westminster system of government for one in which the president is elected by popular vote.
President Yoweri Museveni, 77, has been on the job for 36 years, and the last presidential election revealed the reality of a generational gulf, as he faced candidates several decades younger.
In the January 14, 2021 presidential race that gave President Museveni his sixth term, six out of the 11 candidates were below the age of 44.
The president holds all the aces to easily win the majority votes of the 500-plus members of parliament, according to Democratic Party leader Norbert Mao.
“Some people are saying since the president is aged, he wants one polling station where all voters can be watched,” he said.
Critics say it would be best for the president to stick with a popular vote for legitimacy.
If the Constitution amendment proposal is endorsed the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party, it will be formally submitted as part of the electoral law reforms for constitutional review and taken to a referendum.
On January 12, NRM Secretary General Richard Todwong, said the party prefers a situation where “we go to the people to decide”, and that there is no need to amend the Constitution and remove the people’s legitimacy in electing the president.