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Legislators speak out on age limit case ruling

Constitutional Court trashed attempts by Parliament to increase its tenure from five to seven years

PARLIAMENT – Legislators were Thursday dealt a huge blow after a major aspect they negotiated for with President Museveni as a condition for scrapping age limit from the Constitution was trashed by the Constitutional Court.

In December, Parliament voted on the controversial Age Limit Bill, giving Museveni life presidency on a silver platter. But the legislators from the ruling NRM party had, apparently, negotiated with the president before the controversial vote to have their own term of office running for seven years instead of five.

The MPs sought to start enjoying the extra two years effective this term, meaning the next parliamentary election would be carried out in 2023 instead of 2021.

However, following an appeal against the passing of the Age Limit Bill, the Constitutional Court heard the case and on Thursday pronounced itself on various issues raised by the petitions, leaving MPs leaking sore lips after the Constitutional Court’s majority ruling upheld the removal of the 75-age ceiling for president but quashed the extension of the term of the current Parliament.

Crime24‘s Ritah Mugoya sought the views a section of legislators on the ruling and below are some of the comments.

Raphael Magyezi (the mover of the motion)

I am happy with the court ruling particularly the fact that they have upheld the decision taken by Parliament to remove age limit for the Office of the President and district chairpersons. I personally would have liked to see a decision permitting of the term of Parliament and LCs extended to seven years for practical reasons mostly because we would spend less money on elections, we make savings as a country, but it also gives us time to focus on our legislative work, other than running up and down on elections. To me, that was a key judgment which may have not been captured fully in the presentation in court.

Winfred Kiiza (leader of opposition )

Does Parliamentary Commission have a garden where they grow money? They all draw from the consolidated fund. We thank Justice Kakuru for saying yes, it was taxpayers’ money and those MPs who are ex-officios were not entitled to it and given the Shs29 million wasn’t explained and the best thing that should have been done was to refund the money clearly so that we don’t go about wasting tax payers money.

So we have decided to appeal on those aspects that weren’t brought out when someone says they didn’t prove to us that the beatings by Police and stoppage of their rallies tantamount to non-consultation. Did they want us dead? Ugandans would have felt better if they were consulted in a free and fair atmosphere without harassment, intimidation.

Mohammed Nsereko (Kampala Central)

Those MPs who thought that they would whisk their two years immorally and illegally, you have lost out. Shame on you! My huge disappointment is on the issue of age limit being maintained. To our judges, where will people run if you can’t provide justice to our people? I was waiting for celebrations of those you appeased, there are no people running around on streets or villages celebrating your judgment.

If you had done justice, thousands of Ugandans would be on the streets celebrating the justice you had given them. You have further soiled this country into another constitutional crisis. You validated something that is immoral and illegal; life presidency, authoritarianism and you have opened the gate to tyranny.

Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality)

We will have a discussion, but as a person, I have made a decision that we must appeal against this case because part of the benefit is to keep this debate alive, the moment we fold hands and go home, because that is what Museveni wanted that this debate is closed. We must make sure that this debate isn’t closed. We will debate these judges, the same way we debate Museveni because they have betrayed this country.

Lutamaguzi Semakula (Nakaseke)

Let this be a lesson to the NRM MPs that have been laying their bodies and brains for President Museveni, he is a chameleon that can change anytime. The man has used so many people and dumped them, he turned them into sugarcane, after chewing, and dumps them.

I want to tell NRM MPs that before you carry the luggage given to carry by President Museveni, first check and find out what is inside it. But these people, before they even check what is inside the luggage, they first start negotiating the price before even crosschecking what is inside.

Beatrice Anywar (Kitgum Municipality)

I have faith in the ruling of the judgment and I have to abide by their decisions. If they have thrown out the decisions made by Parliament because we have to run by rule on law in this country. If the seven-year extension had been approved by the court, I would have also benefited from it. Let people not lie to you that they aren’t interested in having their tenure extended, they are just lying to you. All these MPs you see, they are excited about the seven-year term and not only MPs but also Local Government leaders.

Robert Migadde (NRM Buvuma Island)

I thank court for not granting the seven-year term because not all of us supported the extension and the Hansard is there to attest to the views of MPs. Personally, I voted against the extension of the life of the current Parliament because I felt it wasn’t being done very objectively and it wasn’t being done in so much good faith and in the interest of the public. The extension was something being done irregularly.

Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County)

What is at stake is that we saw it coming, but in the moment of excitement, they couldn’t listen and that is very disturbing. Matters regarding the constitution don’t necessarily require having the majority. The majority isn’t always the benchmark for a proper and cool constitutional making.

There are no winners or losers in this matter, but we as Parliament have been made to look bad and there is only one winner who is President Museveni. President Museveni wanted his lifting of age limit and he has got it, but MPs who thought by accompanying it under the extension of the term have fallen flat. In their faces.

And that should be a stark reminder given the circumstances, MPs should be true to their conscience.

Mathias Mpuuga (Masaka Municipality)

Colleagues were all inclined to take up this matter for selfish interest and future Parliament, future leaders should not make this mistake but rather respect the population and rule of law and help us engender the culture that entrench the rule of law.

I don’t know how you pretend from a vote because a vote is out of conscience. I warned the members, when they moved to amend the constitution and term of Parliament that it is unconstitutional.

Sylvia Akello NRM (Otuke Woman)

I am happy with the judges and I pray they remain sober minded and they rule according to the knowledge that they have. For me, from the beginning, I had accepted to be a representative of the people to be the voice of the voiceless because almost 100% of them said we shouldn’t come and touch it.

The subject of seven years wasn’t there when we were going to consult and at the end of the day, you begin making law for yourself! From the bottom of my heart, I am very happy, whether I come back to the 11th Parliament or not, I have left a legacy, now people aren’t thinking about legacy, they are thinking about their stomach, that is why people were making it a do or die.

Michael Timuzigu (Kajara County)

The judges are very right for refusing the 2year extension because our contract was for five years not seven years.

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