Court challenge for Museveni over minister | Africa | DW | 23.07.2013
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Court challenge for Museveni over minister

Opposition deputies in Uganda plan to petition the Constitutional Court later this week over a key ministerial appointment. Some see grounds for impeaching President Museveni.

Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni speaks during the London Summit on Family Planning organized by the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, in central London Wednesday July 11, 2012. (Foto:Carl Court, Pool/AP/dapd)

Präsident von Uganda Yoweri Museveni

Opposition politicians in Uganda say the constitution clearly stipulates that a serving army officer cannot hold political office.

They object to the appointment of General Aronda Nyakairima as minister for internal affairs, saying he is still a serving officer.

Nyakairima was transferred from his post as Chief of Defense Forces to internal affairs in a cabinet reshuffle in late May. He officially takes up his ministerial duties on Wednesday (24.07.2013).

Opposition parliamentarian Mathias Mpuga told Deutsche Welle President Yoweri Museveni could have sought advice before confirming this particular appointment, but chose not do so.

"The fact that he has gone on to confirm it and did not wait to get sound advice means that his action was willful breach of the constitution," he said.

Ugandan opposition activist Kizza Besigye addresses the media during a press conference in Kampala on March 26, 2013. Besigye claims he wants Uganda?s Inspector General of Police Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura and his deputy Felix Kaweesi to face charges at the International Criminal Court for conspiracy to cause a felony. AFP PHOTO / ISAAC KASAMANI (Photo credit should read ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Opposition activist Kizza Besigye has been detained many times by the authorities

Hidden agenda

The opposition say they want the constitutional court to clarify whether – in a multiparty democracy - a serving army officer can enter politics without resigning, and then return to a post as army commander after having left a cabinet post.

DW correspondent in Kampala, Leylah Ndinda, said the government is confident it is doing the right thing, but the subject has not been welcomed by many Ugandans. "They think Museveni has a hidden agenda. Why he is appointing a former army commander to be in charge of internal affairs."

Meanwhile police arrested a leading opposition figure, Kizza Besigye, on Monday claiming he was about to stage illegal rallies. He was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.

***Achtung: Nur zur mit Henry Kasaccra abgesprochenen Berichterstattung verwenden!*** Wer hat das Bild gemacht: Henry Kasaccra Wann und wo wurde es aufgenommen: unbekannt Was ist darauf zu sehen : Henry Kasaccra

Henry Kasacca: "Civil society currently extremely weak"

Opposition activists said last week they were planning rallies against what they saw were unfair taxes on water and kerosene.

But even if there is a ground swell of discontent with the country's leadership, the chances of Museveni being removed from office by impeachment appear remote.

Museveni has large majority in parliament

Henry Kasacca is a Uganda-based political analyst. He told Deutsche Welle that even though the constitution provides for the impeachment of the president, civil society in Uganda is currently extremely weak.

He added President Museveni's political party, the NRM (National Resistance Movement) commands over two thirds of parliament and more than 90 percent of all elected positions at local level.

Kasacca also questions whether the opposition has made any plans to impeach the president.

"Those going to court right now are going to challenge the appointment of one single minister, but that is not necessarily impeaching the president, he said.

Mpuga appears undeterred. "I can only speak with certainty that we shall get the requisite numbers…to impeach the president. Whether we succeed or not, the sticking matter is to get a judgment that agrees with our point of view that it is unconstitutional to appoint a serving officer in a partisan government," he said.

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