Age limit debate: Lawyer petitions Constitutional Court on Article 102 (b)

Head of the Constitutional Court Steven Kavuma. Courtesy photo.

Phillip Opio a lawyer hailing from Soroti district has gone to the Constitutional Court challenging Article 102 (b) of the Constitution that sets a limit on individuals seeking the highest office in the land.

The article stipulates that for one to be President of Uganda, they have not to be less than 35 years of age and not more than 75 years of age. Opio through his lawyers Opio, Otee & Co. Advocates has sued the Attorney General, claiming that Article 102 (b) is inconsistent with both Articles 21 and 38 of the 1995 Constitution.

Article 21(2) of the Constitution states that: “All persons are equal before the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and shall enjoy equal protection of the law.”

Article 38 on the other hand guarantees every Ugandan citizen the civic right to participate in the affairs of government in any capacity. Opio also challenges Section 111 (3)(c) and Section111 (4)(c) of the Local Governments Act [Cap 243] that bars adults of the ages of 18 years to 29 years and adults of over 75 years from contesting as district chairperson(s).

He wants the Constitutional Court to annul Article 102 (b) together with the cited Sections of the Local Government Acts owing to their inconsistency with articles 21 and Article 28 of the Constitution.

Opio’s suit comes at a time when the opposition and civil society are bent on stopping the probable amendment of the Constitution to scrap Article 102 (b) that if left intact will bar President Museveni from seeking another term in office following the expiry of the current term.

Recent debates indicate that Article 102 (b) is under threat from elements in the ruling NRM party who want it scrapped to allow anyone of sound mind to seek the highest position in the country.

Many Ugandans, according to media reports, want to protect the clause from being amended. But supporters of the amendment, mostly supporters of President Museveni, are pushing for a public debate on the subject and have gone a step further to challenge Article 102 (b) before the Constitutional Court headed by deputy Chief Justice Stephen Kavuma, who on several occasions has been accused by the opposition of making judgements mostly in favour of the ruling NRM party and President Museveni.

Government recently came out and denied knowledge of any plans to amend the Constitution and in a recent address, President Museveni also castigated people pushing this debate, calling them time wasters.



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