Lifting of Age Limit not meant to benefit Museveni – NRM

NRMThe proposal to amend the Constitution to remove the 75 year upper age restriction for presidential candidates is not meant to benefit the sitting President Yoweri Museveni, the National Resistance Movement has told the Parliamentary Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

The NRM Deputy Secretary General, Richard Todwong, told the Committee that the party has several people eligible to stand for different elective positions.

“We (NRM) have internal systems for electing leaders in the party. We do not legislate for individuals but for the party,” said Todwong.

Todwong led a team of party leaders from the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) and the National Executive Committee (NEC) to present the party views to the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs who are conducting public hearings on the Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017. Only the NRM, the party in government, honoured the committee’s invitation as other parties stayed away and requested to be rescheduled.

The Bill seeks to repeal Article 102(b) of the Constitution that provides the lower (35 years) and upper age (75 years) limits for candidates in a presidential election.

“As we elect leaders, there are other considerations by the party. We have a number of people who can be leaders. This proposal is not seeking to benefit an individual,” he added.

Todwong emphasised that the position of the NRM party is that the upper age cap is discriminatory and that the right granted to someone to vote should also be the same granted to stand.

Presenting a copy of the Hansard, the Official Report of Parliament, Todwong also said that the issue of imposing an upper age limit for presidential candidates was never adopted by the Constituent Assembly.

MPs on the Committee said that the NRM’s claim that an upper age limit for presidential candidates was never adopted by the Constituent Assembly needed to be investigated since it meant that there could be other areas that were never adopted but ended up in the Constitution.

Quoting from the Hansard of 13th March 1995, Hon. Achia Remigio (NRM, Pian) said that following the debate on the issue of age limit for presidential candidates, a vote was taken and approved for deletion.

“This is forging documents and public records, which is a very serious allegation. If it’s true that the Constitution contains Articles that were smuggled in, could this be the only one or there are others?” said Hon. Abdu Katuntu (FDC, Bugweri).

The Chairperson of the Committee, Hon. Jacob Oboth (Ind., West Budama South), said the Committee would investigate the authenticity of the Hansards presented and being referred to by the NRM and MPs, as they disagreed on their validity.

The Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017 seeks to amend the Constitution to provide the period within which to hold presidential, parliamentary and local government council elections. The Bill provides that the Electoral Commission shall hold presidential, general parliamentary and local government council elections within the first 30 days of the last one hundred and twenty days before the expiration of the term of the office of the President.