There has been debate about the age limit provided for in article 102b of Uganda’s constitution, with focus being on whether to remove or maintain the limit.
The age limit clause bars everyone below the age of 35 and all those over age 75 from standing for president.
The debate on age limit amendment is being fronted by some members of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party whose chairman is three-decade president Yoweri Museveni.
Age limit removal campaigners like Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga and Kassanda South MP Simeo Nsubuga said Museveni should rule for life.
The age limit debate has never been as important as it is today.
Museveni will be over 75 when Uganda next goes to the polls in 2021.
The age limit is the only stumbling block in Museveni’s quest of extending his rule.
But the former bush war general has termed the age limit debate a wastage of time.
But why exactly did the framers of the constitution put this age limit clause.
To answer this question, we will look at the preamble of Uganda’s constitution:
WE THE PEOPLE OF UGANDA:
Recalling our history which has been characterised by political and constitutional instability;
Recognising our struggles against the forces of tyranny, oppression and exploitation; Committed to building a better future by establishing a socio-economic and political order through a popular and durable national Constitution based on the principles of unity, peace, equality, democracy, freedom, social justice and progress;
Exercising our sovereign and inalienable right to determine the form of governance for our country, and having fully participated in the Constitution-making process;
Noting that a Constituent Assembly was established to represent us and to debate the Draft Constitution prepared by the Uganda Constitutional Commission and to adopt and enact a Constitution for Uganda:
Do Hereby, in and through this constituent Assembly solemnly adopt, enact and give to ourselves and our posterity, this Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, this 22nd day of September, in the year 1995.
The spirit of the age limit was, therefore, to avoid a repeat of Uganda’s troubled history characterised by absence of peaceful transitions of power and bloodshed – from one leader to another.
It should be noted that there was never been a peaceful handover of power from one leader to another since Uganda gained her independence in 1962.
With Museveni knocking the term limit out of his way in 2005, the age limit is the only hope of a peaceful transition of power.
If the age limit is removed, the last prayer for Ugandans to have a peaceful transition will be the death limit – but even that could plunge the east African land locked and third world nation into darkness.