By Simon Abaho
Parliament on Monday yesterday voted NRM’s unopposed James Kakooza for the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) seat.
Kakooza replaces the late Mathias Kasamba as one of Uganda’s representatives in the EALA who passed on April 27, 2021.
In remarks to MPs prior to the voting by the House during plenary on Monday, 26 July 2021, Kakooza promised to be reliable and fight for the monetary union of the East African Community.
Kakooza who bagged 183 votes, with no vote against and no abstention now joins Uganda’s eight other representatives to the regional assembly for just over six months and will be back into the trail to renew his mandate in 2022.
In the recent party primaries, Kakooza, formerly MP for Kabula County in Lyantonde district in the 10th Parliament, defeated Mr. Godfrey Kiwanda Ssuubi, the immediate former Minister of State for Tourism and National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) Vice Chairperson for Buganda Region.
This cleared his path in Parliament, where his NRM enjoys a majority.
A verification committee constituted by Parliament with Deputy Speaker Anita Among’s guidance scrutinized Mr. Kakooza and Mr. Gilbert Agaba, who had also participated in the party primaries and returned the former as a sole nominee for the position.
The committee was headed by Fox Oywelowo Odoi (NRM, West Budama North East County).
In his submission to the plenary chaired by the Deputy Speaker, MP Odoi said in arriving at Kakooza as the sole nominee, the committee staked its decision on Parliament’s Rules of Procedure and the treaty establishing the East African Community.
He added decided court cases in his literature review, including the decision in Abdu Katuntu Vs Attorney General and the Secretary-General of the East African Community, Jacob Oulanyah Vs Attorney General and Secretary General EAC and Anita Among Annet Vs Attorney General and EAC Secretary-General.
The decisions were made following disputes over the rules relating to the election of persons to EALA, with the most important holding relating to Kakooza’s circumstance being the Speaker and the respective National Assemblies being given final authority in interpreting the rules.
Ring-fencing the seat for NRM, NUP’s Medard Sseggona said, disenfranchises other Ugandans who could be interested in the seat and argued that it is a violation of the Constitution as far as the right to political participation is concerned.
“Some of us have reservations on the legal interpretation of the committee; what precedent are we setting by disadvantaging somebody else seeking to contest for the vacant seat] because of a lacuna in the law?” said Sseggona.
But MP Asuman Basalirwa (Jeema, Bugiri Municipality) shot down MP Sseggona’s argument, saying much as the Rules do not explicitly provide for by-elections, it leaves the Speaker with the discretion to determine how to proceed in such circumstances “because the framers of the Rules knew that not all situations would be anticipated and provided for in the law.”