Parliament has set Monday (Dec. 17) as date for the discussion on the much-anticipated Age Limit Bill.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga told lawmakers on Thursday the debate will immediately start as soon as the reports are tabled before the House.
“Hon. Members, I received a report from the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee yesterday as well as the minority report,” said Kadaga.
“Parliament shall convene on Monday at 9:00am to receive and debate the two reports,” she added.
The articles set for amendment are 103(3), (7) and 104(2), (3) (6) in regard to the election of the president and challenging of a presidential election respectively.
According to the leaked report, the Committee observed that Article 102 (b) is contrary to the spirit of objective II of the National Objectives and Directives Principles of State Policy which imposes obligations on the state to among others, be based on democratic principles which empower and encourage the active participation of all citizens at all levels in their own governance.
The report further states that “Article 102 (b) threatens democracy since Article 1 grants the people of Uganda the right to determine who leads them and how they are ruled,” adding, “restricting their choice on account of age would deny them the opportunity to fully exercise their freedom to decide who leads them.”
The committee further contends article 102 (b) of the Constitution has the effect of marginalization against the youth and elderly by limiting them from offering their candidature for President.
“Indeed, removing the age restrictions in article 102 (b) is not only a command of article 32 of the Constitution but it will also enhance and equalize the opportunities available to all other Ugandans as far as offering their candidature for the office of President are concerned with those currently enjoyed by the youth and elders,” it reads.
The report goes on to suggest that article 102 (b) is contrary to international best practices in as far as it imposes age restrictions on presidential candidates contrary to international legal instruments and evidence from other countries.
The committee gives examples of countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, US, UK, Canada etc which do not have upper age limit.
The committee in its report further observed that article 102 (b) is redundant in light of article 107 (1) (c) of the Constitution.
“It is important to remember that the justification for imposition of an upper age restriction was to protect the office of the President from a senile president under the assumption that persons above 75 years of age have higher chances of being senile. Basing on the above, the Constitution, in article 107 (l) (c) provided for a possibility of removing a seating President based on mental and physical incapacity,” the report reads.
The committee determined article 102 (b) is not in harmony with articles 80, 104 (7) and 109 (5) of the Constitution. Article 80 deals with qualifications of a Member of Parliament which has no age limit, while article 104(7) and 109(5) allows Speaker of Parliament to perform the functions of the office of President in the absence of the President and Vice President.
The Bill has since divided political opinion in the country, with critics saying it’s intended to benefit President Museveni who will have clocked the mandatory 75 years by 2021.
This, critics argue, will entrench a life presidency that could later plunge the nation into chaos.
But Museveni’s supporters say the people should determine how they want to be led.
“I now ask the Clerk to provide the report to all members so that they go through it and prepare for a debate,” Kadaga ordered.