In a recent development, the Local Council elections have witnessed an extension of their term of office by an additional 180 days, effectively prolonging their tenure until early July 2024. This decision was reached following the presentation of statutory instruments on the floor of the House, a move orchestrated by the Minister for Local Government.
The Speaker, Anita Among, chaired the session during which the Minister for Local Government was tasked with laying out the statutory instruments for House approval. Notably, these instruments had received Cabinet’s secondment before the initial term of office for the Local Councils I and II and Women Councils expired on January 5.
The Speaker emphasized that the government had initially proposed a six-month extension on July 28, 2023, citing a lack of funds as the primary reason for not conducting elections for new office-bearers at that time. With the 180-day extension set to conclude on January 5, 2024, the Minister for Local Government issued this additional extension on December 29, 2023, ensuring compliance with the timeframe. The documents have been fully gazetted and laid on the table for retrospective approval.
Government Chief Whip, Hamson Obua, and Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi, played crucial roles in tabling the new statutory instruments for the extension of the term of office for the Local Councils and Women Councils, respectively.
However, this decision faced opposition from Busiro County East MP Medard Sseggona, who challenged the new statutory instruments, arguing that under no circumstances should a statutory instrument amend the principle legislation. Sseggona asserted that the term of office for Local Councils is fixed at five years.
In response to these concerns, the Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, clarified that the amendment allowing for the statutory instruments was in line with provisions in the Local Government Act Cap 243. This highlights the legal basis for the extension and attempts to address reservations raised by critics of the decision.