A section of religious leaders from Karamoja have said that the findings by MPs during their consultations on the constitutional amendment of lifting the age limit will not represent the views of Ugandans if just a few leaders are consulted.
This follows a decision by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party caucus not to involve voters in the countrywide consultation on the controversial constitution amendment of article 102 (B).
After Igara West legislator, Raphael Magyezi tabled a bill which seeks to lift the 75 year age cap for one to run for president, speaker Rebecca Kadaga then urged MPs to go back and consult their constituents on the proposed amendment.
However, several MPs have been booed and heckled during these consultative rallies.
This has forced the NRM leadership to advise their MPs to change tact and selectively pick who they invite for consultation on this very polarizing bill.
“What should be done is to let every Ugandan participate in this process. Let the views of the voters be heard and let the people’s choice prevail,” Sheik Isa Keli Pedo, the Kotido district Qadhi told Nile Post in an interview.
“The bill is too dangerous, we have our constitutional provisions but some of us have chosen to ignore them. Let Uganda go by the constitution as a democratic state without changing it.”
Similarly Rt. Rev. James Nasak, the North Karamoja Diocese bishop, said that consulting the people who currently are “so divided” by the bill will help heal wounds and prevent chaos.
He added that the age limit debate, coming at this time when the term limits were scrapped in 2005 spells doom for the country as it will leave Uganda “like a vehicle without brakes.”
“Age limit wouldn’t be a problem if we hadn’t removed the term limits. If we remove it now, what remains of our checks and balances in the constitution?” Nasak wondered.
He advised legislators and other influential Ugandans who are pushing for the amendment to look into the matter with soberness and desist from wanting to win on grounds of political parties.
“This is a national issue that we are dealing with and it doesn’t need to be dealt with using tempers or seeing who is mightier than the other. We are all Ugandans and a family and we are all important,” Nasak said.
On September 26, a brawl broke out in parliament between legislators for and those opposed to the constitutional amendment which led to the suspension of 24 opposition MPs by the speaker, and their subsequent violent eviction from the chambers by security agents attached to the presidential guard.
Sheik Pedo said that such scenes shouldn’t be seen in parliament and asked parliamentarians to conduct their business diplomatically within the precincts of the law.
Call for dialogue
Rev Simon Peter Loduk, the Karamoja Diocesan secretary said that now was the time for the country to rethink about having an inclusive national dialogue to talk about issues like the age limit, which he said seems to be benefiting only President Museveni.
“For what reason is it done and who does it benefit at this time? If it is benefiting the current president, it is not okay but if genuinely like the promoters of this bill say, it will benefit other Ugandans in future, it is ok,” Loduk said.
He added that given the current situation, and given the fact that parliamentarians intend to ignore the views of their voters, dialogue was necessary.
“The MPs are not listening to the electorate. The time is ripe for dialogue. Let us come to a round table and talk instead of stepping on tables in parliament,” he said.