By Beatrice Leni
The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) parliamentary caucus has overwhelmingly backed a motion for a private members bill seeking to amend the Constitution to lift the presidential age limit.
At a caucus meeting convened at the Office of the Prime Minister conference hall, the legislators agreed through a vote that Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi moves the motion to seek leave of Parliament to draft the bill to amend among other things Article 102 (b) to remove the age cap of 35 and 75 for persons who wish to stand for the Presidency.
Out of the 296 MPs who attended the caucus meeting, 287 voted to back the motion while 7 MPs voted against it. Only two MPs abstained on the voting process.
Before Magyezi’s motion was endorsed, another NRM MP, Patrick Nsamba Oshabe (Kassanda North) had also presented his motion seeking to urge government to constitute a Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to conduct public hearings on a range of constitutional amendments before presenting a report to government, which will in turn present an omnibus bill with the amendments to Parliament.
However, the legislator’s attempts to convince the MPs on this were futile, as his motion was also put to vote. Only 4 legislators supported his motion, which left it defeated.
Nsamba, together with Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding, Lwemiyaga MP Theodore Ssekikubo and Dokolo South MP Okot Ogong walked out of the meeting after their motion was thrown out.
The Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda, also attended the meeting.
While addressing journalists after the caucus meeting, Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa, who chaired the meeting, said she had received notices from both MPs to table motions but the NRM party required consensus to handle only one.
“The two MPs were given an opportunity to present their motions, debate ensued and we took a vote,” Nankabirwa said.
She revealed that the issue of timing was raised, noting that the ruling of the Supreme Court from the Amama Mbabazi presidential election petition required Parliament to pass electoral laws within two years.
Earlier, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah re-echoed his caution to the legislators against inciting the public over the age limit debate.
Oulanyah is expected to sit with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga tomorrow morning to discuss whether Magyezi and Nsamba’s motions should be considered.