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Age limit: Minority report faults AG on reforms, warns of instability

 

Some of the MPs opposed to the age limit bill. Photo by Vincent Kasozi.

KAMPALA–The Members of Parliament on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee who are opposed to the repeal of Article 102(b) have insisted that the Attorney General and not a private member should table electoral reforms.

The MPs whose minority report has outlined justifications to block the age limit bill argue that the Supreme Court in the Election Petition number one 2016 directed the Attorney General to follow up the recommendation made by the court with regard to Electoral reforms with other organs of government namely Parliament and the Executive and report to court within two years.

Both the minority report and the main report on the contentious Constitution amendment No.2 Bill that seeks to amend Article 102 (b) will be laid on the floor of the house during a special sitting on Monday. The main report recommends for the repeal of Article 102(b) was endorsed by the majority of MPs on the committee.

The bill was tabled by a private member, Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi.

The minority MPs who include Medard Segonna, Abdu Katuntu, Wilfred Nuwagaba, Monica Amoding, Matthias Mpuuga, Mohammed Nsereko, Anna Adeke Ebaju and Semujju Nganda have disproved claims that the age limit bill is in line with the supreme court ruling to enact reforms within two years, they point out that the Supreme court ruling was made on the 26th of August 2016 and therefore the Attorney General still has time to cause the necessary amendments.

“Whereas it is true that the Attorney General has not taken any step in compliance with the directives of court, it is not true that he is time barred,” reads the report in part.

“The presentation of the bill by the said private member cannot be in compliance of the terms and directives of the Supreme Court rather it’s the actions of an overzealous member of the house who should not hide under the cloak of that judgement,” the MPs add.

The MPs say that most of the recommendations made by the Supreme Court remain largely unimplemented.

The have directed that government should introduce comprehensive constitutional amendments following a well-known constitutional review commission. They claim that allowing the bill would be to sanction abuse of the nation’s institutions and dragging the judiciary into political rhetoric.

They further state in their report that they believe amending Article 102(b) is likely to throw the country into chaos and instability as it promotes self-seeking by incumbents.

Their report reads that African states are fond of having constitutions for regimes and presidents other than the population.

They point to specific examples in Africa where constitutions have been amended to suit the desires of those in power in order to extend their rule, some of those countries named are Rwanda which amended its constitution in 2016 to allow Paul Kagame to extend his rule and in Kenya in 2004 when age limits were removed to allow Mwai Kibaki stand again for the Presidency in 2007.

In their justification the MPs state that lifting the age limit at the moment is very dangerous as it is being done for only one possible beneficiary, the current president.

“The proposed amendment especially on the lifting of the age limit is a political action whose consequences are far reaching and injurious to the democratic growth of Uganda,” the report goes ahead to say.

The report quotes former presidential candidate Vernacious Baraymureeba who was invited to make a presentation before the committee on the bill, according to the MPs Baraymureeba said that Uganda’s history is characterized by struggles against the forces of tyranny, oppression and exploitation caused by ambitious leaders who want to overstay in power by exploiting institutions and the people.

“We observe that incumbent presidents with executive powers and control over national resources have from the time of independence used state machinery to manipulate the people and systems to claim artificial popularity.”

The MPs conclude the report by appealing to fellow MPs to reject the bill in its entirety.

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