Government bigwigs led by the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda have come out in a show of support for the age limit bill this Wednesday.
The bill that has polarized the nation and was the cause of violent confrontations in parliament last week was finally tabled on the floor of parliament yesterday for the first reading.
Named the constitution amendment No.2 bill (2017) its main contentious point is the amendment of article 102(b) that caps the upper age limit for presidential aspirants at 75. This clause is the only impediment to president Museveni seeking another term of office in 2012 as he will be overage.
Ruhakana Rugunda deflected criticism as to why the government was ignoring crucial electoral reforms and focusing on Magyezi’s bill.
He noted that several criteria are used to assess whether or not to lend assistance to such an amendment and key among these is whether the said law broadens the democratic horizon of the country and promotes the peace and stability of the nation in the long run.
“I am supporting this move because it promotes inclusiveness in our politics.” He stated. Repeating the party line that the age limit may exclude leaders that the people would otherwise have preferred.
Rugunda was addressing the press today accompanied by the deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, the first deputy prime minister Moses Ali, the government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa and the information minister Frank Tumwebaze.
“Ugandans are not fools they are intelligent they will choose a leader who they believe will be most suited to lead them.” He added.
When quizzed on whether president Museveni has personally voiced support for the bill he deftly sidestepped the question.
“President Museveni has not to the best of my knowledge not said he does not support the bill but the primary point is what do the people of Uganda want and president Museveni as you know is a Democrat who would support the view, the choice, the direction that the people of Uganda really want.” He stated.
The government announced that it has finalized selection of the names of members slated for the much awaited constitutional review commission.
The deputy attorney general Mwesigwa Rukutana notes that the appointment process is in high gear and the announcement of those selected will be made soon.
Rukutana was deflecting accusations leveled against the government for showing overwhelming support for Igara west MP Raphael Magyezi’s age limit bill ignoring crucial electoral and constitutional reforms as ordered by the Supreme Court last year.
He stressed that the constitutional review undertaking does not prohibit a private member from presenting a bill on reforms.
“We could not have said no no no, that because we have this process, you stop, no – the two processes can easily, lawfully and adequately go hand in hand.” He assured.
The prime minister commended the speaker Rebecca Kadaga for what he termed as restoring serenity in the house following last week’s violent engagements in which security personnel stormed the house and forcibly dragged out MPs who had been suspended.
Rugunda noted that the speaker acted in very tolerant manner and kept calm even when her authority was disrespected.
He also condemned the grenade attacks that rocked the homes of opposition members of parliament yesterday.
The government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa noted that plans are underway to formulate a comprehensive field consultation programme on Magyezi’s bill.
She assures that since the bill has been referred to the legal committee, MPs on the committee have 45 days within which to consult with the electorate.
Nankabirwa stated that those politicians who have been misleading the public that the age limit has already been removed will now be exposed.
“They have been mobilizing people to come to the house, to do what? To witness members of parliament amending article 102 and yet we have all those other processes.” She exclaimed.
She asked the press to stand by for the consultations programme such that it can be disseminated and popularized.