BY AHMED KATEREGGA MUSAAZI
MASAKA-UGANDA/NEWSDAY. One of the common tweets over the weekend on social media, was labeling current Government a fifth republic.
Idi Amin regime was the second republic, Obote ll the third etc.
When we were young, Idi Amin’s regime was referred to as “The Second Republic of Uganda.” But the name ended with his regime in 1979. According to Akena Adoko, Obote’s cousin, Amin even did not know the meaning of the term “Second Republic “
His first cabinet including his brother in law, Joshua Wanume Kibedi the then Foreign Minister, Nkambo Mugerwa the Attorney General, Abu Mayanja who was his Education Minister all went to be with the Lord before confirming to us. Other lawyers that replaced them like Godfrey Lule and Edward Rugumayo, are still around and should tell us.
While it is true that part of Obote l regime (1967-1967) was under a First Republic as its earlier part (1962-1966) were under 1962 Independence Constitution and 1966 Pigeon hole Constitution, Obote ll regime (1980-1985) could not be a Third Republic as Obote had ruled under 1967 Constitution, which was the first republic.
Even regimes of his two generals; Idi Amin (1971-1979) and Tito Okello (1985-1986) were under the 1967 Republican Constitution and hence the First Republic.
The Uganda National Liberation Front Government under Yusuf Lule and Godfrey Binaisa and Paulo Muwanga ‘s Military Commission’ regimes (1979-1980) were all under the Republican Constitution and hence, The First republic.
Even NRM/NRA Government under President Yoweri Museveni from 1986 to 1996, was under 1967 Republican Constitution and hence the First Republic.
All Uganda’s head of state and government except Sir Edward Muteesa ll (1962-1966) were sworn in to uphold the 1967 Republican Constitution. Obote was the one who was sworn on as Prime Minister to uphold 1962 Independence Constitution, 1966 Pigeon hole Constitution and 1967 Republican Constitution.
President Yoweri Museveni, though was first sworn in 1986 to uphold 1967 Constitution but after the promulgation of 1995 Constitution on Sunday October 8th 1995, he was sworn in on Sunday May 12th 1996 to uphold the 1995 Constitution, an exercise he has held every after five years, after his overwhelming victory.
Therefore, in a strict sense, the real Second Republic of Uganda started in 1995 and it is still going on, as there is no new constitution ever since it was promulgated save for subsequent changes that have been made out of necessity and due to popular demands.
There have been also contestants. Grace Ibingira, while criticizing UPC under Obote led then by Cecilia Ogwal who opposed writing a new constitution after NRM had taken over, saying that amendments should only be made to the 1967 Constitution, wondered whether that constitution was not a shell after the York had been removed by Idi Amin in 1971 coup who declared a second republic.
However, as Akena insinuated, since Amin failed to enact a new constitution for the second republic, and he continued ruling under 1967 Constitution, his second republic was more in form than in substance.
One also wonders whether a military government is a republic, since a republic is defined as a democratically elected government as opposed to a monarchy or an oligarchy.
Likewise, the violent removal of Idi Amin regime and its successors, are removing the remaining york particles in the 1967 constitution and by 1995, it was an empty shell.
This is a challenge to lawyers and academicians. There is doubt that Uganda is a republic, despite restoration of institutions of traditional and cultural leaders in 1993, which had been removed in 1967. However, which republic? Second or otherwise? Is numbering necessary and meaningful or not? Can we be a republic while accommodating traditional/cultural institutions, or it will be a “Sovereign State of Uganda” as it was the case between 1963 and 1967? Fortunately, if it is the will of God, a constitutional review commission is in the offing.
Haji Ahmed Kateregga Musaazi is a veteran journalist and a Deputy Resident City Commissioner, Masaka City, in charge of Kimaanya-Kabonera City Division.
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