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Court upholds presidential age limit amendment, stops MPs attempt to give themselves extra two years

The presidential age limit petition hearing in Mbale Court. The Constitutional Court judges have by a majority decision of 4/5 upheld the presidential age limit amendment by parliament. (FILE PHOTO)

MBALE- In a 13 hour judgment, 4 justices of the Constitutional Court yesterday upheld the presidential age -limit amendments nullifying the extension of MPs term from 5 to 7 years.

The four out of five justices including the deputy chief justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke and Cheborion Barishaki ruled that there was nothing inconsistent with the constitution for MPs to lift the restriction of years against one aspiring to be elected to the highest office of ‘the land.

In their ruling, the justices noted that the fact that there is no mandatory requirement to subject the said amendment to a public approval through a referendum.

“People vested their power into Parliament to formulate laws and therefore it would be unreasonable to fault parliament for exercising this power in coming up with the recent Constitutional amendment,” the justices argued.

The justices also backed their judgment with the recent recommendation by the Supreme Court in the presidential petition of John Amama Mbabazi against president Museveni which called for constitutional amendments regarding the presidential minimum and maximum age.

However in a descanting judgment of a single judge Kenneth Kakuru, he rubbished the entire constitutional amendments saying they never represented the true will and sovereignty of the Ugandans.

Kakuru who started his judgment with a preamble giving the political history and constitutional background of this country contended that unless we respect the blood shed by our forefathers in 1966 when president Mutesa was overthrown, we may forget the origin of our Constitutional amendments.

Kakuru also reproduced in his minority judgment the maiden speech of President Museveni of January 1986 as he was being sworn -in at the stairs of parliament in which he said that “It was not mere change of guns but a fundamental change that sovereign power of the land lies in the people and not government.

He further quoted Museveni then who had successfully waged a rebellion against Obote saying that government is a servant and not master of the people also concluding that people should die of natural causes and not at the hands of their master.

“Public participation is key to any constitutional amendments and short of it, causes the whole amendment to be a nullity.” said Justice Kakuru.

The judge also noted that the way MPs claimed to have conducted consultation meetings with their electorate was by unfortunate using social media and Ipads which the Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukuntana also submitted.

However  all the 5 justices had a unanimous view when it came to the enarlgement of MPs and LCV chairpersons tenures  of office from 5 -7 years.

They called this selfishness  and a move intended to deny other people an opportunity to to be elected  as Mps.

justice Kakuru concluded even the Shs 29 million that the Mps received to carry out the said consultations was a gratification and  that all Mps  who never returned it should account for it while as the ex-officials who don’t have a constuinecy to consult should return the same . Kakuru then  called for a  financial audit of  the 10th Parliament.

However his 3 brother and sister judge saw no need for the Mps to refund  the Shs29 million saying it was not dawn from the consolidated fund  .

In a nut shell all the petition partially succeeded and court awarded Shs20 million as legal fees in the petition except for Male Mabirizi who represented himself and never incurred costs of a lawyer.

Court also awarded 2/3 of the total costs to each petitioner including Mabirizi who straight away notified the justices that he was dissatisfied with their judgement that retained the  presidential age -limit amendments that he was to appeal to the Supreme court .

 

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