Written by JOSEPHINE NAMULOKI & URN (The Observer)
Debate of the age limit reports is scheduled for Monday, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga announced today.
MPs on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee made two reports – the main report for those in support of the amendment and the minority for those against amendment of the Constitution to scrap the presidential age limit currently caped between 35 and 75 years. Kadaga said debate of the two reports will start immediately once they are tabled before the House on Monday.
“Yesterday [Wednesday], I received a report from the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs concerning the Constitutional Amendment Bill; I also received the minority report. So I am giving a notice that we shall convene on Monday at 9am so that we can have sufficient time for debate,” Kadaga told Parliament this afternoon.
“I am directing the clerk to upload them [the reports] so that members can study them over the weekend, the debate is for Monday,” she added.
Kadaga’s communication comes after long speculation and uncertainty about what is contained in the reports and when they would be tabled in Parliament for debate. The Legal committee is reported to have endorsed the proposal to amend Article 102(b) of the Constitution, which would scrap the current age limits for presidential candidates.
The main proponent of the bill, Raphael Magyezi said this week that he wants the bill passed before Christmas. The ruling party, National Resistance Movement has even blocked its MPs from leaving the country and Kampala city until after the bill has been passed.
The proposed amendment requires approval of 291 of the 436 MPs at both its second and third reading for it to pass. A leaked committee report quoted in local media indicates that the MPs sitting on the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee supported the amendment of Article 102(b) saying it is contrary to the spirit of Article 1 of the Constitution of Uganda.
“Article 102(b) threatens democracy since Article 1 grants the people of Uganda the right to determine who leads them and how they are ruled. Therefore restricting their choice on account of age would deny them the opportunity to fully exercise their freedom to decide who leads them.” reads part of the reported leaked report.
The committee is further reported to argue in the report, that, Article 102(b) of the Constitution has the effect of marginalisation against the youth and elderly by limiting them from offering their candidature for president.
“The presence of age limits for any elective office goes against Article 1 of the 1995 Constitution, the bedrock of that supreme law, which says “power belongs to the people,” said President Museveni when he interfaced with Parliament’s Legal committee.
If the House approves the main committee report by the Legal committee, that decision would scrap presidential age limits and remove the last remaining legal hurdle for President Museveni to stand for a sixth term of office in 2021.
MPs were reportedly offered money and a chance to extend their term of office from the current 5 years to 7 years.
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