Uganda: Presidential Age Limit Purged, Term Limits Restored

December 22, 2017 Africa , News , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Maxence photo

 

By

Gloria Nakiyimba

 

Wherever President Yoweri Museveni is right now, he is beaming with joy after Parliament voted to remove the age limit, and increased the presidential term limit to seven years as they passed the constitutional amendment bill 2017.

315 legislators voted to pass the bill, 62 voted against the bill and only two abstained.

The private members bill was tabled by National Resistance Movement (NRM) party’s Raphael Magyezi, the Igara west member of parliament.

 

It was clear from the onset that the bill would sail through since it was tabled by a legislator from the ruling NRM party that form the majority in parliament and were in favor of the removal of the presidential age limit which the bill sought to purge from the constitution.

The bill was tabled in parliament in October after several members of parliament opposed to scraping the presidential age cap were suspended from the house following fist fights in parliament between pro and anti age limit legislators.

During this infamous session plain clothed security operatives from the Special Forces Command (SFC) that guards the president, stormed parliament and arrested opposition MPs who had strongly opposed the bill and whisked them away.

Another MP, Francis Zaake, was boxed to unconsciousness and is still nursing a head injury from a blow he took from minister for Works and former Chief of Defense Forces General Katumba Wamala.

 

The bill was referred to the committee on Legal and Parliamentary affairs for scrutiny and speaker Rebecca Kadaga asked legislators to consult their constituency on the same.

The Magyezi bill specifically targeted to amend article 102 [b] of the constitution.

Clause B of the article states:.

A person to qualify for election as president must be not less than thirty-five, and not more than seventy-five years of age

This clause will become history once the President assents to the bill which now remains just a matter of time.

If the clause was left intact, it would lock out 73 year old President Museveni from standing for office again in 2021 as he would be more than 75 years old.

In the first vote a total of 317 members of parliament mostly from NRM voted in favor of the bill while 97 from the opposition and a few that defied the NRM party stand voted against the amendment.

MPs also voted to restore the two term limit that was scrapped from the constitution in 2005.

Opposition FDC legislator Nathan Nandala Mafabi tabled the proposal to return the term limits. But the term limit was increased from the previous five years to seven years, now both for the President and parliamentarians.

 

 

MPs Suspended, Drag Speaker To Court

 

On Monday the speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga suspended six MPs for misconduct. They are Gerald Karuhanga, Jonathan Odur, Mubarak Munyagwa, Anthony Akol, Allan Ssewanyana and Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda.

On Wednesday the legislators dragged the Speaker to the High Court in Kampala seeking orders compelling her to allow them to continue participating in the age-limit debate and access to their offices.

Through their lawyer, and also Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, the MPs accused speaker Kadaga of ordering them out of the parliamentary chambers without according them a chance to defend their actions, yet they were discharging their constitutional mandate to draw the speaker to rules of procedure in relation to the tabling of the age limit bill.

They claimed that the speaker totally disregarded clear provisions of the law by suspending them after she had already adjourned the house for a next session and ceased to have powers over the house.

High Court judge Margaret Oumo Oguli then issued summons for the Speaker and Attorney General to appear in court at 2pm on Wednesday for hearing of the petition.

But the summons were not delivered as police blocked Medard Ssegona Lubega, a MP and lawyer, and his colleague Winfred Niwagaba, from serving the speaker who at this time was still busy presiding over the debate on the bill.

The High Court has now set 28th December as the date to hear the case.

 

 

Cessation Talk

 

Some legislators from Northern Uganda are now calling for secession from Uganda if the presidential age limit bill is passed into an act of parliament.

Former leader of opposition Professor Morris Ogenga Latigo, Reagan Okumu, James Akena (son to former president Milton Obote), Julius Ochen, Okin Ojara, Leander Komakech and Gilbert Olanya have threatened to mobilize their people to demand cessation after the bill was passed.

“This time if you tamper with the constitution we are going to divide the country. We shall not allow to stay in a country where by a few people are sitting on individuals” said Kilak county MP Gilbert Olanya.

“Our colleagues from the NRM do not love his excellence Museveni, if you like him you will tell him to retire come 2012. Are you not seeing what happened in Zimbabwe, do you want his excellence to end like Gaddafi of Libya” he said.

 

 

NRM Legislators Defy Party Stand

 

29 MPs from the ruling NRM party defied the party stand and principal of collective responsibility when they voted against amending the constitution and article 102 [b] in particular.

They included Ogong Felix Okot, Ruhunda Alex, Sylvia Rwabogo, Denis Sabiti, Bernabas Tinkasimire, Sam Lyomoki, James Kaberuka, Lowila Oketayot, and Patrick Nsamba. Others are Susan Amero, Anthony Ssemuli, James Acidri, Theodore Ssekikubo, Denis Sabiiti, Connie Nakayenze, Chemutai Evelyn, Gafabusa Richard, Johnson Muyanja Senyonga, Nakawunde Sarah Temulanda and Robert Migadde, among others.

 

 

 

 

Gloria Nakiyimba

Gloria has experience spanning more than five years in Journalism, particularly in field reporting, editing, newscasting and management. She is currently working with Capital Radio Limited [91.3 Capital FM and 96.3 Beat FM] as Head of News, a position she has held since 2010.

Gloria previously worked as the Kampala Correspondent for Radio France International [RFI] generating local story leads with international inference for RFI’s global audience. She also served as Political Editor for The Weekly Mail Newspaper as well as Online Content Editor for the California based Ugandan broadcaster KubutakaRadio.com.

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