Age limit battle to go to Supreme Court

Dissatisfied with the Constitutional Court’s decision to allow the lifting of the presidential age limits, the petitioners have indicated that they are going to appeal in the Supreme Court.

On Thursday, four judges to one ruled that the process leading to the passing of the controversial Age limit bill in December last year that removed the upper and lower age cap of 75 and 35 respectively as a requirement for one to stand as president was legal and followed the dictates of the law.

The Justices of the Constitutional Court therefore rule that the outcome, the Constitutional amendment Act 1 of 2018 stands.

Led by the deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo, Cheborion Barishaki, Elizabeth Musoke and to many people’s surprise Remmy Kasule, the justices, ruled in favour of the age limit amendment even though they found six of the 10 sections of the amendment unconstitutional.

It was only Justice Kenneth Kakuru who said the entire act was unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

Justice Kenneth Kakuru

“We are dissatisfied with this ruling with the way they have treated article 102 (b) as not part of the basic structure of our constitution especially looking at our history as a country. Certainly we are going to appeal this ruling in the Supreme Court,” said Erias Lukwago, the lawyer for opposition Members of Parliament.

The petitioning MPs were, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Winnie Kiiza, Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality), Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda (Kira Municipality), Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempe South) and Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West).

Lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi was the first to express his displeasure before court. He told court immediately after the 13-hour-long delivery of the judgment that he was going to fight for his rights at a higher court.

“This court has many times not stood with the people of this country. Always cases end p in the Supreme Court and this is where also this is going to end. The judges didn’t address the law when deciding this case; they based their judgment on politics. They even left out some of the things we wanted them to decide upon; in essence they set their own questions,” Mabirizi said.

SOLE BENEFICIARY

The judgment left President Yoweri Museveni as the sole beneficiary of the amendment.
Under the deleted Article 102 (b), Museveni who will be 76 by the next election in 2021, would be ineligible for re-election.

With a unanimous decision that it was illegal and selfish for MPs to claim to have extended the term of their office from five to seven years, the MPs were left in an awkward situation.

The judges said Parliament has no power to amend certain provisions of the constitution that touch its heart; what in legal terms is called the basic structure principle.

The judges said there was no provision other than the one that talks about increasing the term of Parliament after the expiration of its term for six months when there is state of war or emergence.

To claim to do so, the judges said, would be interfering with the sovereignty of the people of Uganda who the constitution says all the power belongs to them.

The extension was meant to benefit the MPs who are facing hostility from their constituents over the lifting of the age limits.

The judges also quashed the re-introduction of Article 105(2) establishing the two presidential terms and its entrenchment saying even when it’s good for the country it was included illegally without following the due process.

Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana while making his final submissions said he respected the ruling but wasn’t entirely satisfied with the striking down of provisions relating to the extension of the term of Parliament and local governments.