A Ugandan parliamentary committee has approved changes aimed at scrapping presidential age limit.
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee members endorsed the most sweeping constitutional changes since 2005, with 18 votes— taking a significant leap forward as 10th Parliament seeks to increase presidential term from five to seven years.
Although Article 105 (1), which provides for a five-year presidential term, was not among the proposed constitutional amendments, the Monitor understands that a polarised committee retreat on Friday approved a seven-year presidential term and recommended a referendum.
President Yoweri Museveni has since backed a seven-year term and the age limit removal.
But as “a bargain chip” in the dramatic endorsement of the removal of age limits, the ruling National Resistance Movement members, according to committee sources, backed the Opposition demand for the restoration of the term limits in the Ugandan constitution.
The terms limit was removed by MPs in the 7th Parliament in 2005 to allow President Museveni contest for a third term in office during the 2006 elections.
Although Opposition MPs have welcomed the proposed restoration of the term limits in the constitution, they have accused NRM MPs of trying to appease a bigger part of their voters who had warned them not to tinker with the Constitution.
The debate on the proposed restoration of term limits, however, became controversial after committee members failed to agree on whether a president who has already served two or more terms under the current legal regime, should be allowed to “count afresh” and even contest under the new political dispensation.
he matter was left to the House to decide.
“It’s obvious the NRM MPs are trying to bury their heads in the sand like an ostrich…they are hunting for an enticing excuse in exchange to appease voters who rejected the amendment to Article 102 (b),” Masaka Municipality MP Mathias Mpuuga said.
Expressing fears that the proposed restoration of the term limits might not sail through Parliament, Mr Mpuuga and other Opposition lawmakers told the Monitor that the trade-off is mere window-dressing, and that “the same people who removed the term limits are still around and their appetite for power and patronage seems to grow.”
Mr Mpuuga said: “The issue at hand is about cultivating a culture of respect for laws of the land… the two most important Articles [102 (b) and 105 (2)] that acted as safeguards of nascent democracy were never tested but seen as roadblocks warranting removal, without addressing why they existed in the first place. This is absurd.”
The ruling party members backed by “friendly” independents used their numerical strength in the committee to endorse the removal of age limit from the 1995 constitution in spite of the dissenting views from minority legislators led by Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Ssegona, Bugweri MP Abdu Katuntu and Kumi MP Monicah Amoding (NRM).
At least seven committee members— including Opposition chief whip, Ssemuju Ibrahim Nganda and Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko — were conspicuously absent.
Some of the absentee MPs were attending the 8th Inter-Parliamentary Games in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Since Thursday, members of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee have been holed up at the Lake Victoria Serena, Kigo, to write their report ahead of the anticipated Second Reading of the Raphael Magyezi’s Constitutional (Amendments) Bill, 2017 on Tuesday.
However, sources have told the Monitor that on account of the disagreements, especially on the proposed amendment to Article 102 (b) of the Constitution, there will be two reports — the main report and the minority report.
Although the main report has made its recommendations, they are not final.
The Committee of the Whole House chaired by Speaker will debate the two reports and vote on each of them— including the controversial proposed amendments— before a final decision is made.
Although there were reports in the corridors of Lake Victoria Serena Hotel that those who voted in favour of the removal of the age limit from the 1995 Constitution pocketed USh100 milion each as part of a Shs300m deal, the Monitor could not independently verify these claims.
In backing the removal of age limit caps, the 18 MPs branded Article 102 (b) as “discriminatory” and insisted that the choice should be left to the voters since under Article 1, power belongs to the people.
The members also argued that there are many leaders all over the world who are above 75 and that many prosperous countries like the US don’t have age restrictions.
On the other hand, in the draft minority report, those against the removal of age limit asked their colleagues to account for the views of Ugandans who rejected the proposed amendments and insisted that there should be qualifications for leadership positions since the law provides for academic and citizenship qualifications.
They have also argued that discrimination is under Article 21 (3) and age is not one of them.
Without delving into the details of the two reports, Mr Oboth Oboth, the committee chairperson said: “We have concluded report writing; we have two reports— majority and minority— because there is no unanimity in the matter. It’s a controversial matter you cannot have consensus.”
Once the report(s) signing process is done, Mr Oboth Oboth told the Monitor that the two reports will be officially presented to the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and then a decision will be made at that level to schedule the Second Reading of the Constitutional (Amendments) Bill on the order paper.
Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe
Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.
The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).
The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.
According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.
It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.
“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.
“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”
The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.
Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival
Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.
Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.
But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.
“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.
The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.
Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.
The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.
That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.
Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.
“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.
He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.
“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”
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