7-year-term: NRM fails to convince judges

For weeks, senior government and NRM officials have reportedly been reaching out to the judges of the Constitutional Court with the hope of convincing them to accept the amendment that extended the term of elected leaders to seven years.

The judges led by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo retreated to a hotel in Jinja to write their judgement to the petition challenging last year’s Constitutional amendment.

Other judges are Elizabeth Musoke, Remmy Kasule, Cheborion Barishaki and Kenneth Kakuru.

They are expected to deliver their judgement on Thursday July 26 at the High Court buildings in Mbale.

Multiple sources close to the NRM power base have told this website that since the judges retreated, President Yoweri Museveni has reached out to them, urging them not to write a judgment that would make the country ungovernable.

While the judges listened as far as the deletion of Article 102 (b) that set presidential age limits, they are reported to have stuck to their guns in regard to amendments relating to the re-introduction of the two term limit and the extension of the tenure to seven years.

“Their reasoning is that those amendments were not argued for unlike the age limit which was in the [Raphael] Magyezi Bill,” a source said.

The amendments were introduced during the second reading of the age limit bill against the Parliamentary Rules of Procedure.

“For us [in the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee] did our job and processed the bill the way we were supposed to, but now the problem came when we went to Serena [Lake Victoria resort] Kigo,” a source, who was a member of the committee that processed the Bill said.

At Kigo, some committee members suggested the reinstatement of age limits in order to save their faces from public redicule while others brought in the 7-year extension.

“When we met Museveni, we asked him about what he felt about a 7-year term and he said, “yes we can also consider the option of going the Rwanda way” but he did not say that we include it into the bill,” the source said.

“NOT A KAVUMA”

In Parliament, the proposal was moved by Mbarara Municipality MP Michael Tusiime during the second reading of Magyezi’s private member’s bill to amend the Constitution.

The extension was intended to reward the MPs for removing the age limit which was the only remaining legal hurdle for Museveni to extend his more than three decade grip on power.

Worried by indications that the judges have rejected the amendment, several NRM officials have taken turns to speak to Dollo.

To their shock, Dollo has reportedly told them not to look at him as Steven Kavuma, the man he succeeded.

“He said that to me; he told me that he is not a Steven Kavuma,” a source said.

A senior NRM leader at Parliament indicated that the party is now plotting to table another bill to amend the sections of the Constitution that fixed the tenure of office to five years.

“Members are depressed, many feel let down by Mzee [Museveni] because they thought that getting the two more years would make up for the public anger they are facing over the age limit amendment,” a source said.