Uganda: Court rejects petition to block vote on removing presidential age limit

A court in Uganda has declined to issue an interim order restraining legislators to vote on a controversial constitutional amendment bill that seeks to scrap the presidential age limit of 75 years, a judiciary spokesperson said here Saturday.

Ugandan Judiciary Senior Communication Officer Solomon Muyita told Xinhua by telephone that Joy Kabagye, the High Court’s assistant registrar, late on Friday dismissed an opposition petition to block the Committee on Legal and Parliamentary Affairs to table its report before Parliament and allow the legislators to vote to amend Article 102 (b) to scrap the presidential age limit of 75 years without consulting citizens through a referendum.

“The Registrar ruled that it would be unfair to issue an order to stop Parliament and legislators to exercise their duties to make and amend laws,” Muyita said.

Three Opposition leaders Asuman Basalirwa, Abed Bwanika and Ken Lukyamuzi last week filed an application with the High Court in the capital of Kampala against the Attorney General and Parliament in a bid to stop legislators from debating and voting on the bill without first consulting Ugandans through a referendum.

Kabagye in her Friday ruling said that Parliament is an independent institution, which is mandated to make new laws and amend the Constitution.

She said the Parliament had not violated any law or rule of procedure in deciding to amend Article 102 (b) of the Constitution since its core role is to make laws for the country.

The ruling allows the legislators to start the process to vote on the controversial bill, which is expected to start on Monday next week.

Opposition and campaigners are opposed to the bill, arguing that the move by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party is intended to allow incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, now 73, to run in the 2021 elections when he will be over 75.

NRM legislators on the parliamentary legal committee have recommended a constitutional amendment to scrap the 75-year-old age limit for presidents.

They also recommend extending the presidential and parliamentary term of office from the current five to seven years.