Debate on 'Age Limit' Bill Continues Today

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In short
More than 70 members have so far contributed to the heated debate which started yesterday. Parliament is expected to take a vote late today, according to a notice by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

Debate on the controversial Bill, seeking to amend the cap on the presidential age has resumed this morning at parliament. Members of parliament are debating findings of the report by the Legal and Parliamentary affairs committee which endorsed the proposals initially tabled by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi.

In his private member's bill, Magyezi sought, among others, to amend article 102 (b) of the constitution which capped the age qualifications for the presidency at 75 years. The committee has since recommended that any person aged above 18, is free to contest for the presidency.

In the same report, the committee introduced debate on the restoration of presidential term limits and the extension of the term of office for elected offices. But their recommendations are watered down in a minority report which was presented to parliament by Kumi Woman MP Monicah Amoding.

More than 70 members have so far contributed to the heated debate which started yesterday. Parliament is expected to take a vote late today, according to a notice by the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.

Voting will be by roll call and tally, in line with rule 89 of the Parliament's Rules of Procedure. The rule stipulates 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. This implies that the Clerk to Parliament will have to call each of the 436 MPs to openly vote "Yes" or "No" to the removal of the presidential age limit or to abstain.

This was the voting method used by the Eighth Parliament in 2005 to amend Article 105 (2) and delete the presidential term limits which would have barred President Yoweri Museveni from contesting in 2006 elections, having completed the two five-year terms from 1996.

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party which commands a numerical advantage in the 10th parliament requires 290 votes, constituting two-thirds of the 436 legislators entitled to vote, for the bill to sail through to the next stage.

However, they are not speaking in unison on the amendments. Visible cracks have been developing with a number of them coming out to openly speak against the proposed amendment.

More NRM MPs including Bududa Woman MP Justine Khainza, Pader Woman MP Lowila CD Oketayot, Rubanda West MP Eng. Denis Sabiiti, Buliisa County MP Stephen Biraahwa Mukitale and Bugabula South MP Henry Maurice Kibalya yesterday took to the floor of parliament and spoke against the proposal to lift the cap on the presidential age. 
They said that during their consultations, their voters directed them not to support the amendment.

These now join the already outspoken voices of Kumi Woman MP Monicah Amoding, Buyaga West MP Barnabas Tinkasimire, Kassanda North MP Patrick Nsamba Oshabe, Lwemiyaga County MP Theodore Ssekikubo and Manjiya County MP John Baptist Nambeshe in opposing the amendment.

The others are Worker's MP Sam Lyomoki, Kabarole Woman MP Sylvia Rwabwogo, Fort Portal Municipality MP Alex Ruhunda, Dokolo South MP Felix Okot Ogong, Kasambya County MP Gaffa Mbwatekamwa, Kinkizi West MP James Kaberuka and Maracha East MP James Acidri.

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.