Rugunda: Article 102 (b) wasn’t smuggled into Constitution

Edris Kiggundu

Edris Kiggundu

, Featured

All the provisions in the constitution were debated and agreed upon by the constituent assembly, according to the Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda.

He disclosed this on Tuesday afternoon while appearing before the Legal and Parliamentary Committee, which is conducting public hearings on the Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017.

It came after the shadow attorney general, Wilfred Niwagaba asked Rugunda who represented Kabale municipality in the Constituent Assembly whether some provisions were smuggled into the Constitution.
In his response, Rugunda said all the provisions in the constitution were debated and agreed upon by Constituent Assembly delegates.

Rugunda’s submission contradicts claims by Richard Todwong, the deputy NRM secretary general last week that Article 102(b), which restricts the president’s age to between 35 and 75 years was smuggled into the Constitution.

“The existence of Article 102 (b) in the Constitution is unfortunate, because it was clearly not the wish of the majority Hon. Members of the Constituent Assembly,” said Todwong in a statement to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee last week.

When tasked about the NRM party stand on article 102 (b) to which he belongs, Rugunda said he respects people’s views even if they vary from his.

Rugunda said government supports the proposed scrapping of Article 102 (b) to remove the discriminatory spirit and practice that bars citizens of sound mind below 35 years and above 75 years from offering themselves or being fielded by their political parties to run for the office of the President.

“Uganda like many democracies has given the people, through Article 1 of the Constitution, the power to elect their leaders through regular free and fair elections. The issue of Presidential election should be left to the people to decide.” said Rugunda.

The opposition chief whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda tasked Rugunda to explain whether government wants to amend the Constitution to remove all qualifications.

“Can we do away with retirement in all sectors in government so that we can wheel people in their offices?” asked Ssemujju.

The Kampala Central MP, Muhammad Nsereko asked Rugunda to tell the committee whether Article 102(b) is a discriminatory or a limitation clause and also come out clearly on whether all the academic qualifications requirements set in the Constitution should be scrapped to allow all people to seek election to different offices.

In his response, Rugunda insisted that it would be unfair to stop anybody of a particular age to stand for the office of the President.

When tasked to address his response to other qualifications set in the Constitution, the premier said that he is a senior and disciplined cadre of the ruling NRM and that he would rather his party comes out first on the issue of academic qualifications and other criteria in the Constitution before he pronounces himself.

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