Posts tagged as: constitution

IEBC Changes Date for Repeat Poll

By Walter Menya

The fresh presidential election ordered by the Supreme Court will now be held on October 26, just five days to the 60 days allowed by the Constitution.

In a brief statement, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati announced that the decision was taken to ensure the agency is adequately prepared in light of the court’s full judgment delivered on Wednesday.

“There is no doubt that the judgment impacts on the election operations and in particular the technology to be deployed,” said Mr Chebukati.

“To ensure the commission is fully prepared to deliver an election that meets the standards set out by the Supreme Court, we wish to notify the public and all stakeholders that the fresh presidential election shall now be held on Thursday, October 26, 2017,” he said.

The IEBC moved the poll date from October 17.

PREPAREDNESS

Mr Chebukati announced that the IEBC will issue more details today on the commission’s state of preparedness.

The Cabinet on Thursday approved a Sh10 billion budget to facilitate preparations for the repeat presidential poll.

“This allocation was based on a proposed budget submitted by the electoral agency, IEBC,” says a statement from State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu.

The IEBC had sought Sh12.2 billion for the election, following the nullification of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory by the Supreme Court.

In its ruling on a petition filed by National Super Alliance (Nasa) flagbearer Raila Odinga, the court held that the election was not free and fair. It blamed the polls agency for the irregularities.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said the budget will be given priority.

“We will process it as fast as we can since we do not want to delay preparations for the election,” he said.

VERDICT

According to Mr Chebukati, the IEBC will continue to review the detailed Supreme Court verdict to understand its implications on the fresh poll.

In the majority judgment, Chief Justice David Maraga, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu, Justice Smokin Wanjala and Justice Isaac Lenaola held that the presidential election held on August 8 “was not conducted in accordance with the Constitution and the applicable law, rendering the declared result invalid, null and void”.

They also held that there were substantial irregularities and illegalities in the presidential election that affected the integrity of the poll, “the results notwithstanding”.

FRESH POLL

However, Judges Jackton Ojwang’ and Njoki Ndung’u penned separate dissenting judgments.

The change of the election date to October 26 could be seen as a psychological win for Nasa, which had insisted that the fresh poll should not be held on October 17 as earlier announced by the IEBC.

The coalition wanted the date to be selected through consultations. Besides the election date, the Opposition has also published what it calls irreducible minimums that consist of reforms that must be undertaken before the fresh election. These include staff changes at the IEBC and identification of a new printer for the ballot papers.

Kenyatta – What Vacuum? I’m in Charge Until New Leader Sworn-In

By Laban Wanambisi

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta has slammed claims by the Opposition that the country is staring at a constitutional crisis if the fresh presidential election is not held by the end of next month.

Addressing leaders from pastoralist communities, President Kenyatta reaffirmed that the Constitution is clear that he is the Head of State until a new leader is sworn-in.

“If they think the country does not have a President, I dare them to try do something… we show them that there is no vacuum. There is no need of engaging in a back and forth argument with them,” he said.

“I give you that assurance that the State is intact; the government is in place and working and we look forward to a peaceful and successful election on the date that shall be announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).”

President Kenyatta was reacting to a statement by Siaya Senator James Orengo who urged Kenyans to brace themselves for a constitutional crisis if the fresh poll is not held within the deadline as directed by the Supreme Court.

Speaking outside the Supreme Court of Kenya on Wednesday night following the delivery of the full judgment of the presidential election petition, Orengo, who is NASA’s lead counsel, urged the IEBC to get its house in order as fast as possible to avoid a looming constitutional crisis.

“The danger we now find ourselves in is that if the elections aren’t held within 60 days, he (President Kenyatta) will not have the constitutional authority and the legitimacy to stay in that office.”

“A constitutional crisis in the sense that the powers that the President would normally enjoy were extinguished very substantially on the 8th of August 2017,” he said, adding that “after the August 8 General Election, the President is exercising temporary incumbency.”

According to an IEBC Gazette Notice, the repeat presidential election is scheduled to take place on October 17, although the date is clouded in uncertainty since French firm Safran has said it needs more time to re-configure the KIEMS kits.

The Supreme Court nullified the election on grounds that IEBC committed illegalities and irregularities.

President Kenyatta also once again renewed his criticism of the 4-2 majority judgment by Supreme Court that annulled his August 8 win and ordered a fresh poll within 60 days.

“I have heard things I have never thought I can hear in a democratic nation; because some people have reversed everything that Kenyans said they did not want to see when they voted for this Constitution in 2010.”

“I was stunned and shocked yesterday when he said that he will not hesitate to overturn the will of the people again if a petition is presented challenging the outcome of the fresh poll,” the President said.

Kenya

Duale to Seek MPs Approval of Sh11.5 Billion for Poll

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Details of Age Limit Removal Motion Leak

Photo: Daily Monitor

Police deploy in Kampala ahead of presidential age limit demonstrations.

By Solomon Arinaitwe & Ibrahim A. Manzil

Parliament — Every Ugandan who qualifies to vote will be eligible to run for president and district chairperson if the controversial Private Member’s Constitution Amendment Bill succeeds in Parliament in its current state.

The Constitution Amendment Bill, that has for long been tightly guarded and shared only among trusted lieutenants in government and the ruling NRM party, was on Wednesday tabled before a chaotic NRM Caucus meeting at the Office of the Prime Minister and hurriedly passed by a vote of 287 MPs in support, six against and two abstentions.

Six NRM MPs Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga County), Monica Amoding (Kumi Municipality) Patrick Nsamba (Kassanda County North), Mbwatekamwa Gaffa (Kasambya County), Sam Lyomoki (Workers] and Felix OKot Ogong (Dokolo South County) stormed out of the Caucus meeting after being heckled down as they attempted to voice disproval to the motion they voted against.

The six had earlier voted to support MP Nsamba to table a motion urging the government to constitute a Constitutional Review Commission(CRC) that would prepare an omnibus Constitution Amendment Bill. Mr Nsamba’s motion was overwhelmingly defeated.

Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa said Mr Nsamba’s motion”collapsed on its weight”.

A total of 296 MPs attended the NRM Caucus meeting that gave Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi the green light to table the Private Member’s motion seeking permission of Parliament to introduce a Constitution Amendment Bill.

Buliisa County MP Stephen Mukitale, an NRM-leaning Independent, attended the Caucus meeting but abstained from the vote together with Pian County MP [NRM] Achia Remigio.

A copy of the Constitution Amendment Bill, which Daily Monitor has seen, proposes to amend Article 102(b) and replace it with a clause that simply reads: is a registered voter.

Article 102(b) currently states: a person is not qualified for election as President unless that person is not less than 35 years and not more than 75 years of age.

Article 102(b) that limits the upper age of a prospective president at 75 years is the centre of focus because its amendment would make President Museveni, who turned 73 on September 15, eligible to run for presidency again in 2021.

Under the current Article, he will not be eligible to run for re-election in 2021 because he will be aged 77.

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Ugandan Age Limit Debate – Police, Military Surround Parliament

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Proponents of the plot to delete age limits have been keen to underline the argument that they are not hell-bent favouring Mr Museveni aged 73, to seek re-election as many times as he likes and they are keen to buttress the Bill with separate amendments not linked to Article 102(b).To illustrate their argument that their Omnibus Bill is not simply hell-bent on helping Mr Museveni to contest countless times, the Bill proposes separate amendments to Article 104 [challenging a presidential election], Chapter 11 [Local government system] and Article 61[Functions of the Electoral Commission].On challenging a presidential election petition, the Bill proposes to amend Article 104 and increase the deadline for filing the petition challenging presidential election results from the current 10 days to 15 days.Clause 3 provides that the Supreme Court shall inquire into and determine the petition expeditiously and shall declare its findings not later than 45 days from the date the petition is filed.Under Clause 6, where such an election is annulled by court, a fresh election shall be held within 60 days from the date of the annulment.An amendment to Article 60 proposes that the Electoral Commission shall hold presidential, general parliamentary and local government council elections within the first 30 days of the last 120 days before the expiration of the term of office of the president.With Mr Magyezi’s motion already given a nod by Cabinet and now approved by the ruling NRM, which commands an overwhelming majority of more than 300 MPs in the national assembly, the motion will now be tabled in Parliament amid threats by its opponents to pull all the stops, including going physical, to thwart it.For the Bill to pass, it has to marshal the support of not less than two-thirds of 447 MPs with voting power in Parliament, which is 298.MPs Doreen Amule (Amolatar District), Jackson Kafuuzi (Kyaka County South) and Moses Balyeku (Jinja Municipality West) have been lined up to second the motion.By last evening, it was still unclear when the motion will be tabled as the Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah reiterated that it will not be tabled today unless he met with Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to agree on the way forward.Today’s morning meeting between Mr Oulanyah and Ms Kadaga will also determine who will chair the House this afternoon.Buoyed by the support from the polarised NRM Caucus meeting, Ms Nankabirwa insisted the motion will have to be tabled in Parliament today, pouring cold water on assertions by Mr Oulanyah.Ms Nankabirwa spiritedly argued that passing the Bill quickly is essential for the government and individual MPs to have sufficient time to deal with the obvious political backlash that will be triggered by the scrapping of the presidential age limit before the general election in 2021.”If you don’t bring this amendment early enough to allow damage control and explanations, it will be difficult. So timing is of essence, it is very important leave alone going by the court ruling, [but also] politically to defuse the lies and the opportunists,” Ms Nankabirwa said.With tempers flaring, the Deputy Speaker Oulanyah called for calm and made a U-turn on his earlier statement, this time admitting that Parliament asked for police deployment at Parliament, contrary to his communication on Tuesday that Police and the military had deployed heavily at the national assembly building without a request from Parliament.Earlier, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Ms Winfred Kiiza (FDC, Kasese), chose Justice Forum party leader Asuman Basalirwa to address the media on their behalf.Mr Basalirwa said the Opposition will launch a countrywide campaign “to sensitise the public on the dangers of removing the age limit from the Constitution”.Ms Kiiza said claims by a section of the public that they have been bought into silence are unfounded and reckless, saying their foreign trips during the raging debate, had been scheduled beforehand.On talk by some MPs that they will employ physical force to scuttle presentation of the motion, Ms Kiiza said everybody is gifted by God in different ways.”We are all different and we respond to the same situation differently. Others may use physical means like tearing papers, while others may use reason and debate,” Ms Kiiza said.Message to youthNtungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga, in a separate briefing, asked the youth to “salvage our generation”.”You would rather speak out now than when you are a refugee tomorrow. It will be another very dark day in our history,” Mr Karuhanga said.The briefing was attended by MPs Moses Kasibante (Rubaga North), Lyandro Komakech (DP, Gulu Municipality) and Centenary Robert (Kasese Municipality).

We Must All Adhere to the Law, Says CJ Maraga

By Wanjohi Githae

Chief Justice David Maraga on Wednesday warned that democracy would be under threat if Kenyans did not follow the Constitution and laws passed by Parliament unquestioningly.

In a long lecture after reading the main body of the judgment, Mr Maraga said citizens regardless of their stature in society ought to adhere to all provisions of the Constitution.

And in a signal that the court would lead from the front and won’t succumb to intimidation on how it should rule, he declared that the court would not hesitate to overturn the October 17 presidential election if the litany of omissions of law, the majority decision set forth, are not resolved.

“Whenever called upon to adjudicate, the court will reach the same judgment if the anomalies are not rectified irrespective of who the aspirants may be,” said the CJ.

Mr Maraga seemed to buttress his Tuesday press briefing where he put his foot down, declaring that the Judiciary would not be intimidated through what he termed as persistent attacks on individual judges.

CONSTITUTION

In his address from the bench on Wednesday, he said the moment Kenyans ignore the Constitution they fought for, then they lose it.

“It is also in our view that the greatness of a nation lies not in the might of its armies, important as that may be, not in largeness of its economy, important as that may be, the greatness of a nation lies in its fidelity to the Constitution and the strict adherence to the rule of law and above all the fear of God,” he said.

In noting the emotional investment Kenyans put in presidential elections, “then they should not fail to understand that the law must be followed up to the time their candidate win or loses,” said the Supreme Court president.

HIGH PRESSURE

“Candidates for elective office and political parties often do anything to be elected besides the candidates, the citizens themselves hoping for an improved standard of living get equally agitated,” he added.

Mr Maraga noted that the said factors render elections high pressure events and if mismanaged or candidates do not respect the rule of law and stakeholders don’t perceive the polls as free and fair, the elections can cause instability as seen in 2007/08 skirmishes.

The CJ said the court would not shy away from putting its foot down whenever it felt that the Constitution was not followed even where the will of the people is clear.

Kenya

Duale to Seek MPs Approval of Sh11.5 Billion for Poll

Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale says he will be requesting MPs to approve the release of Sh11.5… Read more »

Zimbabwe: Finance Minister Chinamasa Grilled Over Black Market

By Zvamaida Murwira

Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa was yesterday taken to task by legislators over Government’s inaction on the illegal sale of scarce cash on the black market.

Members of Parliament across the political divide asked the minister why there was no evident effort to prosecute cash dealers whom they claimed acted in cahoots with financial institutions and influential individuals.

The questions were raised in the National Assembly during a question-and-answer session. Shamva South Member of Parliament Cde Joseph Mapiki (Zanu-PF) was the first to ask why cash dealers were not being jailed and fingered members of the Indian and Chinese communities for selling cash at a premium.

Cde Mapiki said EcoCash dealers were also levying charges on desperate customers. Minister Chinamasa said there was no law providing for the arrest and imprisonment of such individuals, but that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe was empowered to impose penalties under the Banking Act.

“The law to jail people (dealing in cash) is not yet there. What is there are penalties for those found doing that. “We have agreed as Cabinet that a law be put in place. I am not saying cash is not being sold, but I do not know about it because I would not be there when people sell it,” said Minister Chinamasa.

His response was met with howls of disapproval from legislators, particularly when he said he wanted to get more information in respect of EcoCash dealers.

Legislators were riled that Minister Chinamasa appeared to suggest he was not aware of a practice that is rampant in the country. Zvimba West MP Cde Ziyambi Ziyambi (Zanu-PF) said a new law would not solve the problem since financial institutions were the major culprits.

“They sell cash and banks are involved. If you want to travel outside the country they will ask you to deposit your money. Where do they think we would have got it (from)?” said Cde Ziyambi.

Minister Chinamasa said he was getting regular reports from the central bank on such vices. He undertook to issue a ministerial statement next week giving full details on the issue.

This was after he was subjected to a barrage of criticism from legislators on why he was not giving precise responses. The legislators were furious that the minister in some instances said he was not aware of any alleged illegal financial practices.

Glen View North MP Mr Fani Munengami (MDC-T) implored Minister Chinamasa to give detailed responses, including information on a proposed $300 million stand-by liquidity facility and central bank governor Dr John Mangudya’s views on the performance of the bond notes so far, given that he had indicated that he would resign if they failed to achieve intended objectives.

Dr Mangudya introduced the bond notes as part of the multi-currency system in November last year, stating they would be paid out as an incentive to encourage exports and promote formal Diaspora remittances.

Responding to another question, Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joram Gumbo said engineers were already on the ground in preparation for the commencement of the Beitbridge-Harare highway dualisation.

Harare South MP Cde Shadreck Mashayamombe (Zanu-PF) had asked for an update on the project. Meanwhile, the Public Entities Corporate Governance Bill was tabled before the National Assembly yesterday.

The Bill provides for governance of public entities in compliance with the Constitution, provide a uniform mechanism for regulating the conditions of service of members of public entities and their senior employees.

The Bill was referred to the Parliamentary Legal Committee to scrutinise whether it is consistent with the national Constitution.

Zimbabwe

Education Minister Moyo Faces Arrest

Higher and Tertiary Education minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has lost his constitutional court challenge where he… Read more »

Age Limit – Two NGO Offices Under Police Siege

By Observer Media Ltd

Civil society offices of Action Aid in Kasanga and Great Lakes Institute For Strategic Studies in Ntinda are under police siege with staff not allowed to leave the premises.

Police cordoned off the offices this evening, producing a search warrant issued by Makindye Chief Magistrate’s court on the request of AIP Henry Peter Walya attached to the Criminal Investigations Department. According to the search warrant, Action Aid is suspected of being used for elicit transfer of funds for illegal activities.

The two NGOs have been vocal against the lifting of the presidential age limit from between 35 years and 75 years from the Constitution.

According to Crispin Kaheru, coordinator of the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CEDDU), police indicated interest in the IT, Accounts and Country Director’s offices. All electronic devices were put under search according to him.

Yesterday, 287 of 296 the National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs voted in support of a motion by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi seeking leave to present a private member’s bill to lift age limit from the Constitution.

PROCESSIONS BANNED

In a related development, Police chief Gen Kale Kayihura has banned any processions ahead of the anticipated debate in Parliament over lifting the age limit. Opposition MPs and civil society had called on the citizenry to attend parliament to witness the ‘castration’ of the Constitution. It is also understood that NRM has also mobolised its supporters to counter any opposition demonstrators.

Kayihura has advised the demonstrators to use other means such as TV and radio networks, indoor meeting, electronic and print media among others to express their support or disapproval.

Uganda

Age Limit Controversy – Kampala Mayor Arrested

Kampala City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago has been arrested. Read more »

Brawl Over Age Limit Removal Is a Bit Like Two Bald Men Fighting for a Comb

opinionBy Daniel K Kalinaki

A proposal to remove presidential age limit from the Constitution has left the population sharply divided, Parliament under heavy armed guard, and Uganda on the edge of a political crisis. A country with one of the youngest population in the world is on the verge of being torn apart in a fight over one of the oldest and longest-serving leaders.

Supporters of the proposal argue that the age-limit is discriminatory. Why block a sprightly 76-year-old from serving their country, they argue. This argument is, of course, not entirely honest, for nothing is said of the other requirements for the job, including academic qualifications. These, I am sure, have denied the country the excellent and visionary leadership of many a clever and popular bricklayer, village wag or peasant, discriminated against for the lack of a mere piece of paper!

Opponents cite the demographic quandary above, the need to breathe new life and energy into the country’s top office, and the opportunity for a peaceful transfer of power from one elected leader to another, among their objections to the proposal.

The discussion has even veered to the point of asking whether, beyond the inevitable breakdowns in the plumbing and drainage, there are medical grounds against a 75-year-old holding the office and whether they would still have the mental computing power to process multi-faceted problems.

The framers of the Constitution had pragmatic reasons for imposing age caps on the presidency: Below 35, one might be in rude health, but inexperienced, impetuous and incapable of offering good leadership; yet an 80-year-old bursting with decades of inexperience might be too frail or damaged by senility, Alzheimer’s or any of the old-age ailments to lead. In other words, the framers of the Constitution didn’t envisage anyone in pampers, or anyone who needed pampering, in power.

But this argument begs the question: If a majority of voters do not want to be led by an octogenarian (regardless, in this case, of how they get onto the ballot paper), why don’t they simply vote for someone else?

That question requires us to return to the Constituent Assembly and to the spirit within which the Constitution was written.

Aware of Uganda’s turbulent political history, a key desire among many CA delegates, was to guarantee a peaceful handover of power from one elected leader to another.

They closed the door by entrenching a two-term limit on the presidency, but naïve and high on post-war euphoria, forgot to lock the windows by leaving a one-party system in charge of the State and kicking the can of political pluralism down the road.

The ideal was that the Movement, when it finally acknowledged that it was indeed a political party, would borrow from the best-practices laid down in the Constitution, wean itself off the State, and develop a culture of internal competition.

In reality, it was the tail that came to wag the dog; the NRM party hijacked the State, embedded itself within all its structures and brought its imperialist political culture into the national political sphere.

From Besigye to Bidandi to Kategaya to Mbabazi and hundreds more in-between, the cemetery of contemporary Ugandan politics is littered with the gravestones of NRM luminaries who brought republican kitchen knives to a gunfight for the control of empire.

If the fight over the age limit were about discrimination, the Solomonic solution would be to postpone a decision on that clause for another 10 years. But it is not. As both sides know, and as with the two-term limit, there is only one intended beneficiary or loser. Both sides can do themselves and the country a huge favour by being honest about this fact.

This would allow us to have two related but separate discussions.

First, since Mr Museveni isn’t too keen on retirement, whether voters should support, work around or actively resist him? Secondly, and more complex, what a post-Museveni Uganda might or should like, and what political and constitutional arrangements might be required.

The fight over the age-limit proposal merely deals with the immediacy of the first without addressing the inevitability of the second. Fighting over the former in order to deal with the latter is a bit like two bald men fighting for a comb; even if the pro-Museveni camp wins this battle, Ugandans will have to fight and settle the post-Museveni war. After all, unlike in political dramas, the ending in life’s series just can’t be amended.

Mr Kalinaki is a journalist and a poor man’s freedom fighter. Twitter: @Kalinaki.

I Won in Free, Fair Election, Says Joho

By Philip Muyanga

Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho has termed a petition by former senator Hassan Omar challenging his election defective and incompetent.

In his response to the petition, Mr Joho said his election was free, fair and properly conducted.

He contends that the petition, which questions his election to the exclusion of his deputy, is defective since it seeks to split the process contrary to the Constitution.

“The election of a governor and his deputy are inseparable, indivisible and the election of one cannot be questioned to the exclusion of the other,” Mr Joho argues in his response.

He now wants the court to determine that he was duly elected, the election was valid and the petition be struck out or dismissed with costs.

In his petition, Mr Omar and his running mate Ms Linda Shuma, who contested on a Wiper party ticket, want the court to declare that there were massive irregularities in the election of Governor of Mombasa County.

They want the court to order IEBC to conduct a fresh election for the seat in strict compliance and in conformity with the provisions of the Constitution, the Elections Act and relevant regulations.

Kenya

Duale to Seek MPs Approval of Sh11.5 Billion for Poll

Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale says he will be requesting MPs to approve the release of Sh11.5… Read more »

IEBC Directed to Deploy Alternative on Oct 17 in Case Technology Fails

Photo: IEBC Facebook

(file photo).

By Olive Burrows

Nairobi — The Supreme Court has directed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to put in place a complementary system for the fresh October 17 presidential poll, in compliance with Section 44A of the Elections Act.

Chief Justice David Maraga said the court could not simply overlook the negation of guidelines on the use of technology in the transmission of results saying the electronic transmission was the bedrock upon which the new election laws passed by the bi-cameral Parliament were anchored.

In its ruling on Wednesday, the court also found that no reasonable explanation was given as to why not all Forms 34B did not possess security features.

Maraga for instance pointed out that the requirement for accountability and transparency was therefore in doubt as no plausible explanation was given for discrepancies in the forms.

“It was obvious to us that IEBC misunderstood the petition and therefore jumbled its responses… IEBC should do some soul searching and go back to the drawing board,” Maraga stated.

“As judges, we have taken an oath of fidelity to the Constitution. For what is the need of having a Constitution if it is not respected?” Maraga wondered.

The court however found no evidence that President Uhuru Kenyatta used the release of funds to IDPs as a campaign tool to entice voters.

Maraga noted while reading the detailed ruling of the September 1 decision of the apex court nullifying the re-election of President Kenyatta that the Supreme Court is among institutions the sovereign power of the Kenyan people has been vested by the Constitution.

Maraga refuted claims that the Supreme Court discredited the sovereign decision of the voters in the August 8 presidential election by annulling the election based on technology malfunction.

Ahead of the commencement of the court session, Maraga explained that Justice Smokin Wanjala, with whom he, Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu and Justice Isaac Lenaola made the majority ruling voiding President Kenyatta’s re-election, had travelled out of the country, hence his absence in the courtroom.

Kenya

Duale to Seek MPs Approval of Sh11.5 Billion for Poll

Majority Leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale says he will be requesting MPs to approve the release of Sh11.5… Read more »

Army, Police Cordon Off Parliament

By Sadab Kitatta Kaaya

Unnerved by the escalating political tensions, authorities have thrown a heavy security blanket around the parliamentary buildings to stave off possible clashes between the promoters of the lifting of the presidential age limit and those opposed to it.

Large numbers of armed, watchful civil and military police, backed by covert surveillance personnel patrolled the grounds as well as Parliament and Nile Avenues yesterday.

Positioned at strategic points were water cannon trucks among other crowd control gear, bringing a warzone feel to the House precincts and surrounding areas.

Their presence has been interpreted as a not-so-subtle show of force by elements of the security forces, that those opposed to the lifting of the presidential age limit say is meant to intimidate them.

At the end of back-to-back meetings, which drew in Deputy Speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanyah, Clerk of Parliament Jane Kibirige and police chiefs, it was resolved that access to Parliament be restricted to the public.

A day earlier, the two Parliament heads met Kampala Metropolitan Police commander Frank Mwesigwa as security agencies increased their presence around Parliament.

On Tuesday morning, the Inspector General of Police, Gen Kale Kayihura also went to Parliament for a closed door meeting with the parliamentary leadership, further heightening the siege mentality.

Kayihura arrived shortly after 10am and hurried into Oulanyah’s office on the 5th floor of the Eastern wing of the parliament buildings. He emerged an hour later to talk to his troops deployed around Parliament even as spontaneous acts of civil disobedience played out around the legislature.

These security meetings were held in anticipation of the tabling of a motion seeking to amend the Constitution and removal of the presidential age limit – a hugely divisive proposal.

The proposed amendment has stoked anxieties at a Parliament where some MPs, especially those opposed to it, are inviting the public to pour into the House to follow the proceedings live. In a brief chat with journalists, Kayihura defended the heavy deployments.

“The deployments are because some people want to disrupt the peace of Parliament, Parliament must transact business in peace [but] everybody is marching. They want to march on Parliament without even clearance from Parliament and police,” Kayihura said.

He did not take any questions. The Observer, however, understood that in his meeting with Oulanyah, it was decided that the public gallery be closed to the public.

This was part of the instructions that Kayihura was overheard giving to his commanders at Parliament. The police have since become very suspicious of people standing in groups anywhere near Parliament.

THREATS

On Monday, four MPs opposed to the lifting of the constitutional presidential age limit were summoned to record statements at police over statements they made last week.

The MPs; Muhammad Nsereko (Independent, Kampala Central), Theodore Ssekikubo (NRM, Lwemiyaga), Allan Ssewanyana (DP, Makindye West) and Barnabas Tinkasiimire (NRM, Buyaga West) were required to report to the Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Directorate (CIID) Kibuli yesterday.

Mark Paul Odong of the police’s directorate of criminal investigations said in the letters that the MPs are accused of offensive communication.

Ssekikubo and Tinkasiimire skipped their appointment with the police because they had “more important issues to attend to at Parliament” leaving only Nsereko and Ssewanyana to go to Kibuli for interrogation. They were later released without charge.

Opposition MPs criticised the police summons, arguing that they are unlawful since what MPs say within the precincts of Parliament is privileged and protected by guarantees of immunity under Chapter 6 of the Constitution.

“The arrest of MPs can’t be accepted, no amount of intimidation, no level of deployment shall scare us,” Kawempe South MP Mubarak Munyagwa said at an opposition press conference.

“I want to tell my NRM colleagues who are pushing for this amendment; if you don’t trust your martial arts tactics, better get off this campaign. We are serious about this, we shall sort ourselves out one on one should that bill be tabled. You defeat us on the floor, we shall follow you, we know where you sleep,” Munyagwa said.

The opposition caucus questioned the heavy deployment around Parliament.

“We are disappointed that the police is being used to address these political issues. In my constituency, a young man has died in police cells because he was opposed to the amendment. When I was walking into Parliament, I saw another man chained to the fence being brutalised by the police,” Denis Lee Onguzu, the Maracha South MP, said.

At a parallel press conference yesterday, Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, the designated mover of the anti-age limit bill, told journalists that the police came in after he filed a complaint.

“I was receiving text messages threatening me and my family, so, I ran to police and reported the case,” Magyezi said.

The Igara West legislator, a ruling party member, is the chief mover of the controversial amendment, which once passed will clear the way for President Museveni to cling onto power after he tops the current age limit of 75 year ahead of the next election in 2021.

“This is not a Magyezi motion…I hear threats left and right but I would rather hear the arguments; I would love to see Ugandans move away from the culture of threats and insults,” Magyezi said.

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