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Constitution Bill tabled, Chadema MPs walk out

15th November 2011
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Chadema legislators walk out of the parliamentary debating chamber in Dodoma yesterday. (Photo:Omar Fungo).

Opposition MPs from Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi yesterday walked out of the Parliamentary debating chamber in protest against the tabling of the Constitutional Review Bill, 2011.

The MPs walked out immediately after Shadow Minister for Justice and Constitutional affairs Tundu Lissu had read the opposition’ views on the motion tabled by Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Celina Kombani.

It was after about four MPs from the opposition stood up to seek Speaker’s guidance but in vain that they decided to walk out leaving CUF, CCM and TLP to continue with the debate.

Speaking to journalists after the walk-out the Leader of Official Opposition in Parliament Freeman Mbowe said his MPs and those from NCCR-Mageuzi would not participate in the debate that is set to last until Thursday.

He said they would instead take the matter back to wananchi, adding that they would give details today. He accused the Speaker of siding with the government by suppressing opposition MPs and their views.

Earlier Lissu reading the opposition views asked Speaker Anne Makinda to suspend the session on the grounds that the Bill read for the second time in parliament did not follow proper procedures.

Explaining to reporters after walking out, Lissu said the Bill was not supposed to be tabled for the second time, considering the fact that a lot of changes had been made on it.

He said having made a lot of changes on the Bill tabled for the first time in April this year the document was not supposed to come for second reading, insisting that after such changes the document was required to go to wananchi for fresh scrutiny before giving their opinion.

When tabling the Bill Kombani told the House that the president of the United Republic of Tanzania will remain an icon of the process, saying there was no way members forming the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) could be nominated by any other organ.

According to the minister, the president should not be viewed as head of the government; instead he should be viewed as head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

Besides nominating members of the commission the task of drafting the terms of reference should also be left to the president. However, both tasks, according to the minister, should be done in consultation with the Zanzibar president.

She said such experience was not new, arguing that countries such as Kenya, Zambia and Ghana followed the same procedures while in Uganda the minister in charge of Constitutional and Justice Affairs was given the mandate to form the Constitutional Review Commission and the terms of reference.

After finalization of the opinion collection exercise the report compiled would be submitted to the president of the United Republic of Tanzania for further processes.

The minister stressed that the Bill tabled yesterday aimed at establishing the CRC that would engage in collecting public views only.

Meanwhile the Tanzania Retired Judges Association (TARJA) has advised against proceeding with a second, third reading and enactment of the Constitution Bill so as to work on the many key public issues which have not been addressed exhaustively.

TARJA issued a statement yesterday in Dar es Salaam listing some of the recommendations of the Association in trying to involve most Tanzanians in drawing up a new constitution.

“We need to have a unique commission that will be responsible for elections in the country,” said retired Judge Hamisi Msumi.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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