MBALE–Opposition leaders in Bugisu sub-region will not allow the ruling National Resistance Movement to flout the Constitution by amending it in their favour.
The opposition leaders said this while addressing the media in Mbale town on Wednesday about ongoing debate on Constitutional Amendment Bill which is believed to target clauses in the 1995 Constitution related to land ownership as well as that on age limit–which is seeking to repeal Article 102 that only allows a Ugandan not aged above 75 to stand for election as president.
“Our Constitution is too young to be tampered with unless we are saying those that sat at the 1995 constituent assembly were all ‘fools’ who did not know what they were doing ” Paul Butita, the Democratic Party coordinator in Elgon region, said.
Butita argued that all Ugandans, including President Museveni and the NRM supporters, must adhere to the current Constitution and stick within its stipulations.
He warned that any attempt to push forth with the plans to amend the Constitution could compel the opposition to call for civil disobedience against individuals and institutions that go against the current law.
Butita said the foothold for Uganda to witness a peaceful power transition in the coming years is only hinged on adherence to the current Constitution.
“To amend this Constitution again to suit the whims of a few individuals means taking the country back to bedlam,”Butita said.
Othman Wetaka, a political activist in Mbale, said the only amendments that could be made to the current Constitution would be an inclusion of remuneration and safety package for a retiring president.
“Our legislators may only have to look into including in the Constitution how aging presidents in future can be supported during and after retirement,” Wetaka said, citing issues of their safety, how best to protect their wealth, keep them in good health, among others.
Wetaka, a former aspirant for Elgon County in the 2016 parliamentary elections, also warned Members of Parliament, especially those from Bugisu, against supporting any “unnecessary amendments” to the Constitution without first consulting with their constituents.
“These MPs assured us during their swearing in ceremonies that they will guard and protect the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, why then should they be the ones to repeal it?” Wetaka posed.
“Those from Bugisu should not even think of coming back home if they enforce amendments without consulting the people, that will be betraying voters.”
Speaking on the proposed land amendment law, John Mutambu, commonly known as Apirin, the secretary for defense for Forum for Democratic Change in Mbale, urged Ugandans to stand against the amendment, saying it is meant to keep the poor poorer and benefit government workers who have already showed their greed through corruption and land grabbing.
“We will only become refugees in our own country if the proposed law is goes to the wishes of the government,” Mutambu said.
He said evidence from most government programmes show that compensation has never been something that government can effect easily, warning that surrendering all the rights on land to the government will make it even more difficult for the peasants to get anything from their land whenever it is taken.