The #AgeLimit bill, gets Parliamentary Approval!

How did we get here as a country?


Last Wednesday 20th, 2017 went down in history for the wrong or right reasons, depending on your view point. The parliament of the republic of Uganda voted in favor of a motion for the continuity of the constitutional amendment bill which seeks to remove the age cap from the presidency. Presented by Hon Raphael Magezi (Who was absent at the time of voting), the bill also seeks to extend the presidential, parliament and elected district council terms to seven years from the current five years. It also seeks to restore presidential term limits that had been previously scrapped in 2005.

The pro amendment side was backed by the ruling national resistance movement party while the anti-amendment side composed of the forum for democratic change, democratic party, Uganda people’s congress and a number of NRM legislators, labeled by the party as rebel MPs for going against their party’s stand. The winning side required 290 votes out of the 436 members of parliament entitled to vote. With its numerical advantage at play, the national resistance movement led the pro amendment side to garner 317 votes against the naysayers’ 97. Two legislators abstained from the vote.

According to rule 89 of parliament’s rules of procedure, voting at the second and third reading of a bill to amend the constitution has to be by roll call and tally. That day the public watched keenly and had an opportunity to know who was for and against at the actual vote. A committee to review the clauses one by one and vote on them has been set up by parliament. It is after this that the bill shall be presented for the third reading after which it shall be passed.

There were boos for Hon. Betty Amongi of the Uganda people’s congress, Hon. Beatrice Anywar and Hon. Anita Among who are forum for democratic change leaning but stood as independents. The NRM was also shocked by its members who voted for the nay side among them Hon. Susan Amero, Hon. Robert Migadde, Hon. Sarah Nakawunde, Hon. Richard Muhumuza, Hon. Hellen Kahunde, Hon. Justine Khaiza, Hon. Lowila Oketayot and Hon. Geoffrey Macho in addition to those who had supported the nay side from the start; Hon. Bernard Tinkasimre,Hon. Theodore Sekikubo, Hon. Gaffa Mbwatekamwa, Hon. James Acidri and Hon. John Baptist Nambeshe. Hon. Mukitale Stephen Adyeeri and Hon. Jacob L’okori abstained from the vote.

So what’s next? The opposition led by Winnie Kiiza plans to go back to the constituents for consultations on the way forward. For the common man, this means that president Museveni, 73, shall be eligible to stand for presidency in 2021. Whether he shall be considered a fresh candidate or not is up to the parliamentary committee to decide. What we know is that elected district council, parliament and presidential candidates for the next term shall serve seven years in office. The terms of office for the presidency shall be restored to two terms that is another one to be left to the public to be decided through a referendum as recommended by the constitutional and parliamentary affairs committee chaired by Hon. Jacob Oboth Oboth.

The mood in the population is one of betrayal if opinions on social media, of which an estimated two million Ugandans are to go by. Earlier opinion polls carried out by several civil society organizations had indicated that eighty five percent of Ugandans weren’t in support of tempering with the constitution.  What next for Ugandans?

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