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President Museveni Undermining Constitution, Says Kampala Lord-Mayor

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni talks during a news conference at the Nakasero State Lodge in the capital Kampala, Uganda, October 16, 2011.

The Lord-Mayor of Kampala says President Yoweri Museveni’s refusal to implement a parliamentary resolution is an impeachable offense.

Erias Lukwago, who is a former legislator, says the resolution calls on the Ugandan leader to delay approving a partnership contract with oil companies to allow for an investigation into bribery allegations.

But, in a letter to the speaker of the legislature, President Museveni counters delaying the proposed partnership with Tullow, Total and CNOOC oil companies will weaken his administrations’ credibility in future negotiations.

Mr. Museveni stated in his letter that “reneging on the old agreements or freezing ongoing agreements would be a disaster for Uganda, and could lead to costly litigation for breach of contracts.”

Lukwago said the President’s response reflects what he calls the state of affairs of the rule of law in Uganda.

“The president who took an oath to uphold the constitution and to defend the institutions of government and all decisions taken blatantly comes out to say, to hell with the decision of parliament,” he laments.

Ugandan legal scholars argue that resolutions from parliament are not necessarily binding on the executive branch of the government. Lukwago maintains President Museveni lacks any constitutional power to veto a parliamentary resolution.

“When a bill is passed, he [Mr. Museveni] can force parliament to have a second opinion on it,” he says. “But, once it becomes a resolution of parliament, the executive has no choice but to implement.”

The Kampala mayor says Mr. Museveni’s action presents a challenge to parliament.

“If indeed this parliament should stand its ground, we have to be resolute in the decision that was taken and called the president to order,” said Lukwago. “If he refuses, they also can [make a move] of impeaching the president because the constitution says once the president breaches the constitution or defies particular resolutions of parliament, he can be impeached.”

All the same, the Kampala mayor concedes impeachment of the president is unlikely due to the ruling party’s majority status in parliament.