By Timothy Sibasi, firstname.lastname@example.org
KAMPALA – The Deputy Secretary General of the ruling NRM, Richard Twodong has told the Parliamentary and Legal Affairs Committee of Uganda Parliament which is processing the amendment of the controversial Article 102(B) on the presidential age limit deleted from the constitution, that the article in question was smuggled into the Constitution on March 13th, 1995.
The revelation roared the committee and proposed to move an investigation to ascertain the authenticity of the entire Parliamentary Hansard of March 13th, 1995 and whether the content was tempered with to have 75 years of age as cut off point for a Ugandan president smuggled into the constitution.
According to the Chairperson of the Committee, Jacob Oboth Oboth, the committee will interface with an official from the Hansard which is an official document and record of the Uganda Parliament.
In the wake of this new disturbing alleged findings of forgery and content smuggling of the presidential age limit to the Constitution, other personalities that the committee will cross examine, are existing members of the Constituency Assembly who participated in the promulgation of the 1995 Constitution.
The committee will also interface with the former Chief Justice of Uganda Benjamin Odoki who at the time headed the Constitutional Review Commission that was famously known as the Odoki Commission. The commission traversed the entire country seeking views of the people on the subject matter therein the Constitution before president Museveni accented to it, hence making it the first Democratic Uganda’s Constitution in 1995.
“We must review the Hansard to establish the authenticity of article 102 (B)….” Say shadow Attorney General in Parliament, Abdu Katuntu.
“The NRM government has the history of forgery, you still remember when the Hon. Rafael Magyezi who is the mover of this controversial private member’s bill seeking the removal of the presidential age limit, actually forged a report of Parliament on Local Government and Kampala Capital City Authority…so we don’t rule it out forgery in this matter…but we need to investigate the matter.” Says the shadow Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister in Parliament, Medard Segona.
Twodong’sallegations, comes in the wake of a heated debate on the amendment ofthe article to lift the presidential age, now capped at 75. This bill for the amendment is now before the legal affairs committee of Parliament.
If the proponents of this private member’s bill succeed in their maneuvers, the amendment will have removed all hurdles for President Yoweri Museveni to contest for the Presidency when his term of office ends in 2021. Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, would be eligible under the current constitution.
As the debate on the proposed presidential age limit removal continues, All East Africa traces the issue back to the Constitution making process in 1995, when the Constituent Assembly (delegates) handled the issue extensively.
Below is the debate that preceded the insertion of Article 102 in the 1995 Constitution. James Wapakhabulo, the Constituent Assembly chairman, chaired the session that convened on Monday 13th March 1995, at the International Conference Centre, Kampala to consider the draft Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.
From the hansard, Alleastafrica revisits the CA debate and now brings you the details of who said what.
Joseph Mulenga (DP party delegate and select committee II chairman): Mr. Chairman, Article 102 and the Committee recommend that this Article be amended by recasting paragraph (b), deleting Paragraph (c) and renumbering paragraph (d) as (c) so as to read as follows:
‘A person is not qualified for election as president unless he is (a) a citizen of Uganda by birth (b) 40 years of age or above, and. (c) a person qualified to be a member of parliament.’
Mr. Chairman, as will be noted from the footnotes, there are ways of amendments sought to change the minimum age qualification. It is recommended by the Odoki Commission that it [should] be 40 years of age for the president. The Committee by majority adopted that position and only changed the formulation instead of reading as it does in the draft to read 40 years of age or above.
Chepsikor Muhammad (Youth delegate – Eastern region): Mr. Chairman, at this point I would like to oppose the recommendation given by this Committee II. I would like to delete the following words: ’40 years of age’ and replace it with ’25 years of age or above.’
Wapakhabulo (The chairman): Let us first of all be clear as to what we are debating. A motion has been moved by Hon. Chepsikor and it was seconded by many members. That motion seeks to amend the recommendation in paragraph (b) so that the reference to (h) is changed to 25 years of age or above. To delete 40 years and replace it with 25 years.
Atwoki Ambrose (Youth delegate): Mr. Chairman, first of all want to clear this impression which is coming from the members that it is only in exceptional cases that presidents below 40 years can perform very well.
I do not believe in that kind of mystery. I believe that age does not qualify somebody into a class of being capable or incapable. I believe that our priorities should be to look at the capability of the person.
Chepsikor: Mr. Chairman, I support the suggestion given by Hon. Atwooki because many elders have consulted me and therefore, I fully support the recommendation. Thank you.
Atwoki: Mr. Chairman, I was saying that we should not be seen to be to radicle to advocate for age limit which might not be practical and feasible. I thank my friend Hon. Chepsikor for accepting the amendment.
Lt. Noble Mayombo (NRA delegate): Mr. Chairman, I would like to dispel the impression that has been created that young people in this Assembly are ambitious. That is why they are agitating for the reduction of the age.
But I would like, Mr. Chairman, to move an amendment if the movers accept to re-read that it should be not less than 35 years of age and not more than 75. I beg to move, Mr. Chairman. (Applause)
Wapakhabulo: Let us first know what we are talking about. The motion before us is that the recommendation be amended by deleting 40 and inserting 35.
But Hon. Mayombo seeks to go further and amend by adding that ‘should be not less than 35 years and not more than 75 years.’ It would then read that: ‘The person is not qualified for election as president unless he is not less than 35 years of age or not more than 75.’
But the words used, is not qualified for election, which means actually we can have a president who is above 75. Because someone who is 74 can be elected and if he is serving 5 years he definitely will be above it. Is that what you are having in mind or you are saying a person shall not be a president of Uganda if he attains the age of 75.
Wapakhabulo: Okay, if it is seconded that we delete paragraph (b), then we have to dispose of that one first. I will give the floor to the mover to give his reasons and then we proceed.
AggreyAwori (SamiaBugwe North County): One, the question of election and two, eligibility to serve as president, Mr. chairman, if it was possible we should make an amendment to the preamble on the amendment so that it should read: “A person is not eligible for the office of the president unless he is: (a) a citizen of Uganda by birth, (b) of the age up to 75 or 70.”
Dr. HigiroSsemajega (Lwemiyaga County): There should be some elements of respect even from other countries. So, Mr. Chairman, I propose that while we may not talk about 40 years, but I go by the age limit bottom of 35 years on wards, no upper limit but surely there must be some qualifications. Mr. Chairman, I beg to oppose.
Wapakhabulo: Okay Hon. Delegates let us pronounce ourselves on this one. The question is one of deletion that instead of talking of any age we leave it to the person that is the underlying rationale in this motion that we delete Paragraph (b). I now put the question.
(Question put and agreed to)
Wapakhabulo: Now we go back to the motion as moved by Hon. Chepsikor and modified by Hon. Atwoki and then further modified by Hon. Mayombo. That for a person to be a president of Uganda or to be eligible for election or qualified for election should be not less than 35 years of age, or more than 75 years of age.
The rest is a question of wording really by polishing. But the rationale is to say, you must be 35 and above but you are not eligible for election if you are 75 years of age. I now put the question.