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The Issues to Be Determined in Age Limit Petition

Deputy Chief Justice Aliphonse Owiny Dollo is heading a panel of 5 judges who are sitting in Mbale to hear a constitutional petition challenging last year’s passing and signing of the Constitutional Amendment No. 2 of 2017, which among others removed the age limit hurdle for presidential contestants.

The petition comprises of 5 different petitions which were consolidated into one.

The petitioners are Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka, Karuhanga Kafureka, the Uganda Law Society, Prosper Busingye, and Jonathan Abaime.

A total of seven issues were agreed upon by the petitioners and the defendants (Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and the Attorney General) to be determined by the appellant court.

First, the Panel will be deciding on whether Sections 2 and 8 of the Amendment, which extended the terms of MPs from 5 to 7 years, weren’t in Contravention of Article 1 of the constitution, which gives all powers to the citizens, Article 77, which limits the term of MPs to 5 years; and 77(4) which allows only a 6months extension of the MPs term and only during a state of war or a state of emergency.

Secondly, the judges will be ruling on whether applying the term extension retrospectively (starting with this very term) isn’t in contravention of the above articles.

In the same way, the Judges will also determine whether the extension of term of Local Government Councils from 5 to 7 years and the retrospective application of this extension isn’t in breach of Articles, 176 (3), 181(4) which prescribe the powers and operations of the local councils.

The judges will further determine whether the reintroduction of the Term Limits doesn’t violate 260 of the constitution, which categorises this as a matter that should have been subjected to a referendum.

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They will also decide on whether the removal of the Presidential age limit isn’t in contravention of Article 21 of the Constitution, which specifies the circumstances under which a law is to be called “discriminatory.”

The petitioners also want court to decide if the introduction of the amendment bill by a Private Member, Raphael Magyezi, was in contravention of Article 93, which states that such motions should be moved by and on behalf of government.

They are also challenging the invasion of Parliament by the UPDF officers, who assaulted members of Parliament. These argue that this was in contravention of various sections of the constitution including Article 24 which protects all Ugandans against torture and 208 which bars the national armed forces from engaging in partisan politics.

The judges will also rule on the consultations held by MPs about the amendment and whether they adhered to Article 29, which pertains freedom expression.

The petitioners also cite lack of consultations with the public on a number of Sections of the 2017 Amendment.

They also cite Parliament’s failure to adhere to its own rules by for instance allowing non-MPs in the Parliamentary chambers, tabling the bill in the absence of the Leader of Opposition and Chief Whip, allowing Ruling Party members to sit on the Opposition side of the House, and the suspension by the speaker of six MPs from the house.

Other contentions include, waiving the require minimum of 3 sittings from the tabling of the report, closing the debate on the Amendment Bill before allowing all members to present their views, failure to close all doors during voting and failure to separate the second and third readings by at least 14 sittings.

The judges will also decide on the constitutionality of the Presidential ascent to the bill in the absence of the Certificate of Compliance from the Speaker and the Certificate of the Electoral Commission confirming that the amendment was approved at a referendum.

The panel of judges handling this care are Deputy Justice Owiny Dolo Himself, Justice Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke, Kenneth Kakuru and Cheborion Barishaki.

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