Uganda parliament clears hurdle for Museveni to run again

Saturday December 23 2017

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. Many

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni. Many critics observed that he, 73, is uncomfortable with pieces of legislation blocking his way to remain in power. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

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The passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017 to remove presidential age limit has once again demonstrated President Yoweri Museveni’s discomfort with the 1995 Constitution.

Last week, parliament with 332 MPs in support against 97 passed the Bill to remove the presidential age limit, clearing a hurdle for President Museveni to seek another term.
Once assented to, President Museveni will have a chance to run for a sixth elective term.
Under the current Constitution, President Museveni is serving his last term because the presidential age is capped at 75.

Many critics observed that President Museveni, 73, is uncomfortable with pieces of legislation blocking his way to remain in power.

“The spirit in which the 2005 Constitutional Amendment was done, is the same spirit this amendment is being done-creating a rule for one person,” said Latif Sebaggala, an independent legislator.

Term limits
In 2005, 75 per cent of Ugandans told a Constitutional Review Commission to maintain presidential term limits. This was duly contained in the commission’s report to government, but the Cabinet, pushed for removal of term limits.
President Museveni was serving his last term in office and would not have been eligible to contest in 2006 because the Constitution provided for only two terms.

His allies like the late Eriya Kategaya, Amanya Mushega and Miria Matembe who openly objected to this project eventually fell out with Museveni.

The majority of ruling party legislators simply threw the provisions out on the basis of it being discriminatory.

It is argued that age limit was introduced to bar the late Milton Obote from contesting the presidency.

“This is an indication that we are headed to create presidential monarchy. This amendment ushers in a new political environment where the executive is the domain. We shall see Constitutional disdain and people’s confidence in representative politics and heightened political patronage,” said Crispy Kaheru, co-ordinator of Citizens Collation on Electoral Democracy (CCEDU).

It is not surprising that President Museveni is finding hurdles in the Constitution, some of which are expressed in his actions.

Constitution amendment

In May 2011, he told a press conference that the current parliament will amend the Constitution to remove the articles that provide for a right to bail to suspects of riots, economic saboteurs, rapists and defilers. Museveni blames the judges for giving bail.

President Museveni’s discomfort with the right to bail as enshrined in the Constitution grew louder at the height of the walk-to-work protests against rising costs of living.

“President Museveni has never believed in the Constitution. He only uses it to hoodwink the people. He is like a cult leader. His history tells it all. He calls himself a revolutionary person who does not refer to any document. What he is imagining is what prevails,” said Imam Kasozi, a don at Islamic University in Uganda.