Return ‘Age Limit’ Bill to govt.

LOP1The ‘Magyezi Bill’ should be returned to government to await wider consultations under the Constitutional Review Commission, Leader of the Opposition, Winfred Kiiza, told the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.

Hon. Kiiza said that the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017, moved by Igara West MP, Hon. Raphael Magyezi (NRM) as a Private Members Bill, was not presented in “good faith and is intended to undermine the democratic path of the country.”

Hon. Kiiza together with MPs: Hon. Roland Mugume, Hon. Joseph Ssewungu, Hon. William Nzoghu and Hon. Artkins Katusabe appeared before the Committee considering the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017, which seeks to among others, delete the upper (75yrs) and lower (35yrs) limitations for presidential and district chairperson candidates.

“At all times, the Constitution has always been amended to cater for the interests of one man, the President, against the population,” said Kiiza adding that “It’s our considered view that this Bill be referred back to government to form part of the wider views alongside those in the Minority Report adopted by Parliament that should be taken to the Constitution Review Commission for further consideration and engagement with the public.”

The Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017 also seeks to amend the Constitution to provide adequate time within which to hold presidential, parliamentary and local government elections; to alter eligibility requirements for persons standing for President or District Chairperson; and to increase the number of days within which to file and determine a presidential election petition; and to increase the number of days within which the Electoral Commission is required to hold a fresh election where a presidential election is annulled by court.

Kiiza rubbished justification that the Magyezi Bill was intended to answer orders by the Supreme Court during the Amama Mbabazi Vs Yoweri Museveni and the Electoral Commission saying that the orders were given to the Attorney General and not a private member.

She said that the Attorney General or the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs was meant to present a comprehensive Bill intended to reform electoral processes and management. Kiiza said that the Supreme Court did not make orders with regards to qualification of presidential candidates since the issue was never before it.

“There are other recommendations or orders of court but neither government nor the mover of the Bill seems to care. This implies that this Bill before Parliament is premised on erroneous interpretation of the ruling,” said Kiiza.

Hon. Edward Makmot (Ind., Agago) wondered whether the Leader of the Opposition would reject a deletion of Art. 102(b) in the Constitution if she were in government.

Kiiza said she would oppose the amendment regardless of who was in government adding that the Constitution and other laws should not be made for particular individuals.