NRM MPs move to support Abiriga’s Bill proposal, want age limit removed by Christmas

Ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party legislators have resolved to throw their weight behind Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga’s Bill proposal that seeks to award each legislator a two years’ extension on their current term of office.

The resolution was among the many passed in a caucus meeting held Tuesday by President Yoweri Museveni, who also doubles as the party chairman.

The move to extend the term of elective offices from five to seven years came to the limelight early this month when Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga disclosed his plans to table a Private Member's Bill that seeks to extend the term of all elective offices.

According to Abiriga, the current five years are not adequate for an elected leader to implement his/her programmes, pledges or projects. He also argued that most legislators are use a lot of money during campaigns and thus spend the five-year term servicing loans. Abiriga promised that should the 7-year term be granted; he would not return to parliament. He also called upon other legislators to do the same.

According to the NRM party chief whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, Abiriga’s idea is hot item and it creeped into the caucus meeting, forcing the party to discuss it extensively.

“You must agree with me the extension of terms of parliament to seven years was something that was catching fire around parliament. It appears to be a very popular move and I could not stand in its way. So we discussed it and even consulted the chairman of the party (Museveni) and he repeated the views he gave the legal committee,” Nankabirwa said.

She added that the party resolved to set up a committee to handle legalities and harmonize positions on the possibilities of having the Bill.

According to Nankabirwa, some of the members on the committee include Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, Defence Minister Adolf Mwesige, Security Minister Henry Tumukunde and Planning Minister David Bahati among others.

Last week, President Museveni supported the proposal while meeting members of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to discuss the Raphael Magyezi bill that seeks to remove presidential age limits.

Museveni said that the leaders in Africa have much more to do and need adequate time to develop the continent.

"For these countries with all these problems, two terms of five years is just a joke. Those who talk about this are just looking at improving their CVs. We might not discuss it now but there is merit at looking at the seven years. It would give some time to these young countries to develop. France has seven-year terms, I do not see what they have lost," Museveni said.

Meanwhile, Nankabirwa also said that the Caucus meeting resolved to have the controversial 'Age Limit' Bill, which seeks to among others amend Article 102(b) that caps the Presidential age limits between 35 and 75 years, to be handled by Parliament before Christmas.

She also said that voting on the Bill will be by roll call and tally as stipulated in the Parliament Rules of Procedure. Parliament is expected to start debate on the Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017 tomorrow afternoon after the Bill today appeared on the business to follow.

Rule 89 of the Parliament's Rules of Procedure stipulate that voting at the second and third readings of the Bill for an Act of Parliament to amend a provision of the Constitution has to be by roll call and tally.

Article 262 of the Constitution stipulates that, for a Bill for an Act of Parliament to amend any provision of the Constitution to pass, it must be supported at the second and third readings by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all Members of Parliament.

For the 'Age Limit' Bill to pass through, NRM will require the support of 290 MPs out of the 436 MPs entitled to vote in Parliament. There are 18 ex-officios in Parliament who are not entitled to a vote.

However, certain legislators opposed the move by their colleagues to extend the term of office to seven years.

Lwemiyaga County MP, Theodore Ssekikubo condemned the NRM counterparts of being selfish.

“How would they feel if the previous parliament had decided to do the same and left them out there wanting to join?”

Kasanda North County MP, Patrick Nsamba Oshabe labeled the move as “transactional politics.”

“We are seeing transactional politics at its best in this country and its very unfortunate that we have reached this far. They have failed to get the money they were expecting and now they are transacting out country,” he said.


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