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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.

More on This

Ugandan Govt Under Pressure Over Crackdown On Age Limit Demos

EU, Amnesty International Pile Pressure On Govt to Stop Crackdown On ActivistsGovt to US – We Are Not Keen on Lectures from Foreign Agents

Ugandan Parliament Won’t Debate Age Limit – For Now…

Parliament Defers Age Limit DebateAnti-Age Limit Protesters Want to Burn Buildings – Kayihura

Ugandan Age Limit Debate – Police, Military Surround Parliament

MPs Blocked From House As Army, Police Enforce Tightened Security RulesMakerere Students Arrested Over Age Limit

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).

MPs Question State House Shs 23 Billion Supplementary Request

Parliament’s budget committee has raised concern over the Shs 23.1 billion supplementary budget request from State House – less than two months to the end of 2016/2017.

The latest request is an addendum to an earlier request of the Shs 2.9 billion supplementary budget request from State House that was approved by parliament retrospectively.

State House received Shs 257.29 billion for the 2016/2017 financial year under Vote 002. According to the new supplementary budget request, Shs 200 million was spent as capital donation to Isingiro fruit factory and Shs 1.08 billion was given to the Federation of Uganda Football Association (Fufa) for the African Cup of Nationals football tournament preparations.

State House comptroller, Lucy Nakyobe appeared together with the Presidency minister, Esther Mbayo before the budget committee to defend the supplementary budget request.

Nakyobe told the committee chaired by Ntenjeru North MP, Amos Lugoloobi that State House exhausted its annual budget allocation on several recurrent items hence the need for additional funding to settle outstanding obligations as well as facilitate their operations through the remaining period of the financial year.

They include among others utilities such as telecommunications, electricity and water that require Shs 1.2 billion, classified expenditure of Shs 5.028 billion and insurance for the presidential helicopter and jet at Shs 1.4 billion among others.

The others include Shs 2.4 billion spent on Makerere University visitation, Shs 9.55 billion for inland travel and another Shs 3.5 billion for travel abroad.

“We have a helicopter and we have a jet but we only got money for the jet. We did not have the money for insuring the helicopter. We requested for additional funding from the beginning but they did not give us, so it remained an unfunded priority at the beginning of the financial year. But we had to insure the helicopter because it is mandatory.

Then the other issues, it is because of over activity. We did plan, for example, when you look at travel abroad, we planned for 25 visits outside the country, but as I speak we have already done 30 visits so we have consumed five extra visits. So we have already gone overboard… and also got some services on credit. When you look at the state visits we had planned for only 15 and as we speak we have already done 17″, Nakyobe said.

She defended the Shs 9.55 billion additional funding required for the president’s in land travel, saying the money will be used to facilitate local programs and settle fuel bills.

However, the committee members led by the chairperson Lugoloobi questioned whether the items for which State House requires that additional funding were of emergence nature.

Patrick Nsamba, the Kasanda North MP wondered how State House will spend such a huge sums of money in the remaining days of the financial year.

“The law clearly state the circumstances under which we should ask for supplementary, but what am seeing is additional, additional every where. The circumstances under which we should be asking for supplementary are clearly stated; under situations of emergencies, things that cannot wait for the next financial year. Look at item no.5, Mr chair, there is travel inland worth Shs 9.5 billion. So Mr chairman am just looking at the time period vs what is required”, Nsamba said.

Lugoloobi questioned why State House continues to request supplementary budgets even when it receives sufficient allocations. Nakyobe attributed the problem on emerging issues as well as under funding for some items. She explained that as the year closes, they need liquid cash to run State House as they wait for releases for the new financial year.

“The year closes on the 30th of June, but when the year closes, the other one doesn’t open automatically although theoretically is it supposed to, but it doesn’t. By the time you get to receive money for the other financial year, you still have to run because State House doesn’t close.

We’re supposed to facilitate the president at all times, come rain, come shine. So we still have to have some money to see us through that period when books have closed as we wait for new books of the other financial year to open. So it is things like travel inland that where we keep some money because the programs continue”, Nakyobe added.

The officials are expected to return back to the committee on Friday morning to discuss the classified expenditure funding.

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