Former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi’s supporters and legal team have rushed to court to block the controversial Constitutional Amendment No. 2 Bill, 2017 by Igara West Member of Parliament Raphael Magyezi.
In a Tuesday sitting boycotted by opposition MPs, Magyezi tabled the controversial bill that, among other things, seeks to delete the upper age limit provided in article 102b to allow three-decade president Yoweri Museveni stand for president when Uganda next goes to the polls in 2021 – and possibly become the east African nation’s life president.
Magyezi’s bill also aims at reviewing article 104 (6) to increase the number of days within which the Electoral Commission is required to hold fresh polls if a presidential election result is cancelled, from 20 to 60 days.
But through Mbabazi’s lawyers of Muwema and company advocates and Akampurira and co advocates, former presidential candidate Mbabazi’s friend Benjamin Alipanga wants Magyezi’s motion stayed until the Constitutional Court has pronounced itself on a petition filed in 2014.
In Constitutional Petition Number 041: Dr Benjamin Alipanga Vs NRM, Attorney General and ORS, the petitioner challenged Museveni’s legal capacity to serve as president when he clocks the age of 75 – against article 102b that Magyezi’s motion seeks to delete.
Alipanga’s petition sought a court order to restrain parliament from amending article 102 until an interpretation of the same had been offered.
Alipanga has now written to Speaker Rebecca Kadaga reminding her that the debate of the age limit bill is a “total disregard of the pending constitutional petition”.
“We are instructed to categorically state that parliament cannot and should not debate a matter that is currently pending before the constitutional court as to do so would be in contempt of court and also offend rule 64 of the Rules of Procedure of Parliament 2012,” read a petition to Kadaga, copied to the constitutional court.
Alipanga has now sought “the intervention of the Constitutional Court to halt this process [age limit removal bill] until court determines the matter before it”.
He has also requested court to fix a date of hearing to “expeditiously” handle the petition.
Hours after Alipanga’s letter to Kadaga, Premier Ruhakana Rugunda, accompanied by government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa, information minister Frank Tumwebaze and deputy attorney general Mwesigwa Rukutana addressed the press at the Office of the Prime Minister on the issue of Alipanga’s petition.
“The Alipanga petition doesn’t in anyway stop parliament to carry out its work,” said Rukutana.
“The court couldn’t have decreed Parliament not to carry out its mandate of making laws.”
But Counsel Fred Muwema thinks otherwise: “Parliament should allow the due process of court to be followed. Let everybody submit themselves to authority of court.”