The Constitutional Court sitting in Mbale on Thursday evening upheld the amendment of article 102(b) to lift the minimum and maximum age limit from the constitution.
Parliament in December passed the controversial age limit bill to lift the cap on the presidential and district chairperson age limit from the constitution after a total of 317 MPs voted in favour of the motion whereas 97 were against it.
A group of five people including; the Uganda Law Society (ULS), lawyer Male Kiwanuka Mabirizi, six opposition MPs led by the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, Prosper Businge, Dr. Abed Bwanika and Jonathan Abaine Buregyeya would later petition the Constitutional Court challenging the passing of the age limit bill into law saying it contravened the constitution.
On Thursday, in a 4:1 judgment, the judges said the age limit amendment was passed in compliance with the constitution.
“Court declares removal of age limit for president and LC5 are valid and passed,” ruled the Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny- Dollo.
The Nile Post brings you how each of the five justices of the Constitutional Court ruled on some of the key issues.
Extension of parliament’s term from five to seven years
Owiny- Dollo: “MPs were subjective to their narrow personal interests above the public good. The constitution is made for the future generation and it is important that the amendments reflect the will of the people.”
Remmy Kasule: “Parliament did not formally arrange to seek the participation of the majority on the amendments of term for parliamentarians. Remember, the constitution cannot be amended by 1 person or a group of members but by the majority. People don’t want amendments that come both frequently and hastily. While the power to amend is within the Constitution, it shouldn’t be used to create a situation where such power is done outside the Constitution. Only the people can. Extension of the tenure of MPs and Local Government councils, from 5 to 7 years was nowhere in the bill.
Kenneth Kakuru: If we allow MPs to extend their own term it would be an absurdity. It would mean every 5 years they can amend and even declare themselves for life as MPs. Then they could even abolish the Republic of Uganda and declare it a monarchy.
They can even abolish judiciary. Some members of parliament have been in parliament for more than 10 years, you can’t tell me that they need 2 more years to study and understand the parliamentary rules of procedure. If we go by what happened, it would mean that parliament would every five years extend its terms without holding an election and this is what Idi Amin did by declaring himself life president and parliament.
Elizabeth Musoke: By extending their term of office, Members of Parliament violated article one of the constitution.
Cheborion Barishaki: People went to vote aware of only five years. Extension of term is a breach of social contract and not in good faith.
Violence in parliament and army’s involvement
Owiny- Dollo: The intervention of the army when there was fracas in the house during the debate was wrong. Proof of this is they came in bare handed and in civilian clothes. It was an error in judgment by the army chief.
Kenneth Kakuru: Army would not have come if MPs had acted properly, they invited it on themselves. Members of Parliament called it on themselves for the army and police to act on them so they cannot come here and cry foul. However, it did not require the army’s presence in parliament, the police has enough power to evict unarmed citizens in parliament
Elizabeth Musoke: The chaos in parliament would have been contained by the police and therefore army involvement was not justified
Cheborion Barishaki : The speaker’s directive was for removing them from parliament but not to detain them.Their arrest and detention was uncalled for .They (army) used excessive force and the treatment of MPs was inhuman.
Remmy Kasule: A number of MPs conducted themselves without the necessary expected restraint they have themselves to blame for the scuffle at parliament.
Lifting of age limit and president leaving office after clocking 75
Remmy Kasule: The Odoki Committee itself didn’t find the age limit of the President as one of the critical pillars of the constitution to be entrenched. Accordingly, I find that the Amendment of article 102(b) doesn’t contravene the constitution.” If we have fixed the minimum age, we don’t need to consider the maximum, the electorates will decide .Aging is part of a human process that comes with its attributes. It must be appreciated that even with the removal of term limits, only those with the required age will stand for elections.
Justice Barishaki: The argument by the petitioners that amendment of presidential age limits violated people’s sovereignty not tenable. There was a bill, there was debate, and there was consultation. Amendment providing for lifting of the age limit did not breach any provisions of the constitutional because parliament followed due process.
Kenneth Kakuru: I find that the amendment of term limits was in contravention of article 93 of the constitution. I therefore find it’s passing unconstitutional.