UPDATE: Justice Stellah Amoko & Mwangusya’s ruling on Age Limit Bill

By: Babirye Sania

Justice Stellah Amoko of the supreme court has dismissed the consolidated appeal and confirmed the decision of the constitutional court sitting in Mbale that ruled that the age limit bill was constitutionally passed. While delivering her judgment,she has explained that the Bill did not make a charge on the Consolidation fund because the said 29 million shillings that were paid to each Member of Parliament for consultation was already put aside by the parliamentary commission to run its activities, ruled that the speaker of parliament had a right to Amend the order paper and include the Bill hence she did not smuggle it in as it had been alleged by appellants and further also ruled that there was no proof from the appellants that members of the public were denied access to parliamentary gallery during the reading and tabling of the Bill in Parliament.

Still in the supreme Justice Eldard Mwangusya has ruled that the process of debating and passing the bill was null and void, but added that although some of the issues raised by the appellants were valued, however, they would not warrant an annulment of the age limit law. According to him the absence of a valid certificate of compliance from the speaker to accompany the bill means there was no Valid assent to the Bill into Law by President Museveni because there was nothing to ascend to. He says that issues like the constitutional failure to summon key witnesses like speaker Kadaga are valid but were not fatal enough to all the amendment of the Act.

Mwangushya ruled that lack of public participation and consultation also defeated the faith in which the Bill was brought since consultations were curtailed by security. He also declared that the rights of Mps and other members of the public who would have wanted to follow and participate in the debate was infringed upon when the doors of the gallery were closed.

Live Updates: Age limit Bill final verdict comes in today

By Sania Babirye
10:25Am
As judges prepare to give the verdict on the age limit Bill many Ugandans and well wishers have filled the Court room to capacity. However, security is not so tight as we wait for the Justices to come.

Security at the entrance is confiscating any red hats or badanas which have been worn by any of the people who have come to witness the court session.

Some of the politicians in court include Ssemujju Nganda, Allan Sewanyana, Odonga Otto, Gerald Karuhanga Abedi, Bwanika Rapheal Magyezi, Simeo Nsubuga, Kenny Lukyamuzi.

Lawyers Erias Lukwago Ladislausi Rwakafuzi, Male Mabirizi and Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana
10:40Am
The seven justices of the supreme court led by chief justice Bart Katureebe have started delivering their judgement on the appeal calling for the squashing of the the lifting of the presidential age limit.

However, before starting on the delivering of the judgement, Justice Bart Katureebe has apologized for the delay and explained that, “When they concluded hearing the petition in January this year, he stated it clearly that the ruling was to be on notice due to its nature.

Justice Katureebe has explained that they take their work seriously but the judgement was long and all the seven Justices needed ample time to thoroughly internalize all the evidences from all sides before they could deliver it.

He has also noted that he has been sick for three weeks since he had to under go surgery and has also postponed his second surgery on his eyes to make sure that the judgement is delivered before Easter.

Justice Stella Amoko Arach is now reading her judgement.
11:20AM
So far, Justice Stellah Amoko has thrown out Mabirizi’s claims that the judgement was not delivered in 60 days saying its not mandatory. She has also dismissed his claims that he was not given enough time saying all parties were given enough time while in Mbale, and that Mabirizi was not evicted from the bar because he is not a practicing lawyer so he can’t sit at the bar.

She says artificial 102b was constitutionally amended since the people still maintain the sovereign of the number of terms they want a leader to rule them through voting.

Justice Arach has started delivering her judgement by resolving issue 7 were petitioner Mabirizi and Erias Lukwago alleged that the constitutional court denied them a right to fair hearing.

Justice Arach has dismissed the claim on grounds that the procedure adopted by the Constitutional court in disposing off the Appeal did not in any way infringe on the appellants right to a fair hearing.

She has further stated that Mabirizi was not chased from the bar because he is not a practicing lawyer and hence was given a special seat in the dock where court could easily hear him from and it was the court’s discretion to award him professional fees for the petition.

She says the constitutional court gave enough time to each appellant to properly present his or her petition.

Arach first disposed off the preliminary points of law raised by one of the appellants Hassan Mabirizi in which he wanted the Attorney General’s response to the appeal struck off for being filed out of the stipulated time frame.

Arach says court has powers to validate such pleadings.

She has also dismissed another point of law by the Attorney General William Byaruhanga to have Mabirizi’s appeal taken off the record for having arisen out of a Constitutional petition that was filed in December 2017 way back before the enactment of the Bill into Law. However, Arach says Mabirizi’s petition was filed in accordance with the law since it was challenging the manner and processes that led to the enactment of the Bill.
11:57AM
Three issues raised by the appellants have been dismissed with Justice Arach agreeing with the five justices of the Constitutional court.

Just like the constitutional court, Justice Arach also maintained that there was no need to hold a referendum for parliament to Amend A(102)b since its not one of the entrenched articles (Ezagumizibwa mu ssemateeka).

She has explained that the Bill did not make a charge on the Consolidation fund because the said UGX29 million that was paid to each Member of Parliament for consultation was already put aside by the parliamentary commission to run its activities.

She has also ruled that the speaker of parliament had a right to Amend the order paper and include the Bill and as a result, she did not smuggle it in as it had been alleged by appellants.

She also ruled that there was no proof from the appellants that members of the public were denied access to parliamentary gallery during the reading and tabling of the Bill in Parliament .

Justice Arach has also stated that there was a right quorum of 1/3 of MPs while voting on the Bill even though the leader of opposition and other MPs chose to walk out of the chambers .Judge says this did not contravene the procedure.

In conclusion, she has dismissed the consolidated appeal and confirmed the decision of the constitutional court sitting in Mbale that ruled that the bill was constitutionally passed.She has also directed all parties to bare their own costs.
12:09PM
Justice Mwangusya states that although some of the issues raised by the appellants were valued, however they would not warrant an annulment of the age limit law.

He also says that failure to deliver the judgement in 60 days cannot have the judgement declared null and void as Mabirizi had stated in his petition in the high court.

He says that issues like the constitutional failure to summon key witnesses like speaker Kadaga are valid but were not fatal enough to annul the amendment of the Act.

Justice Mwagusya has faulted the Constitutional court saying it should have annulled the process of conceptualizing, tabling, debating and passing of the Magyezi bill because the entire process was null and void.

Mwangushya says lack of public participation and consultation also defeated the faith in which the Bill was brought since consultations were curtailed by security.

He also declared that the rights of Members of Parliament and other members of the public who would have wanted to follow and participate in the debate were infringed on when the doors of the gallery were closed.

He further declared that the absence of a valid certificate of compliance from the speaker to accompany the bill, means there was no Valid assent to the Bill into Law by President Museveni because there was nothing to ascend to.

He says that the process of debating and passing the bill was null and void. Consultation was interrupted.

There was no valid certificate of compliance and as a result the president illegally ascended to the bill with no valid certificate of compliance.

Age limit ruling expected to kick off at 10AM

By Sania Babirye

The supreme court is today expected to rule on the much awaiting presidential age limit petition which seeks to have the law squashed on grounds that it was passed unconstitutionally .

The much anticipated judgement will be delivered bu all the seven Justices of the supreme court led by the chief Justice Bart Katureebe.

Other Justices on the panel include Justice Rubby Opio Aweri, Eldard Mwangusya, Stellah Arach Amoko,Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza, Jotham Tumwesigye and Justice Paul Mugamba.

The petitioners in the case include city lawyer also representing himself Hassan Male Mabirizi, Uganda law society and six opposition members of parliament led by former opposition leader in parliament Winfred Kiiza, Allan Sewamyana, Gerald Karuhanga , Mubarrak Munyangwa, Ssemujju Nganda and Jonathan Odur.

On the 16th of January 2019, the supreme court concluded hearing the presidential age limit petition and the judgement was to be delivered by the 16th of March.

However, it has taken three months to have the judgement delivered after one of the petitioners Male Mabirizi petition the high court in Kampala on Monday this week seeking orders to compel justice Bart Katureebe who heads the supreme court and the judiciary to deliver the said judgement and also give reasons why the said judgement was delivered after the expiry of the 60 days within which it should have been delivered.

However, immediately after Mabirizi dragging the chief justice to the high court over the delayed judgement , the supreme court registrar Godfrey Anguandi Opifeni issued a notice setting today as the court will deliver its judgement.

While concluding hearing of the petition, justice Bart Katureebe warned Mabirizi against dragging him to the East African court of justice over delayed delivery of the said judgement beyond the required 60 days.

Justice Katureebe explained that day to Mabirizi that the appellant court had seven other Justices and that each of them comes up with his or her own judgement after a thoroughly reading and analysing all the evidences produced which takes time.

However, Justice Katureebe promised to endeavor and deliver the said judgement as soon as possible.

The petitioners want the age limit law declared null and void because it was allegedly passed unconstitutionally.

These claim that the entire bill should be squashed to save the country another catastrophe because it offends several Articles of the Constitution.

Some of the irregularities they cited during the debating and passing of the law included the invasion of parliament by the army and violence that was inflicted on opposition MPs who were against the passing of the law.

These also cited the inadequate consultations to the Public who are the custodians of the law and the fact that the speaker of parliament abducted her duties by leaving parliament and allowing the army to invade parliament.

They submitted that such actions leading to the passing of the law tantamount to terrorism and a law passed in such away has only one remedy which is to annul it in its totality.

These also faulted the constitutional court five justices led by the Deputy chief justice Alifonse Owiny Dolo who upheld the law yet they observed that there was violence during the process of passing the age limit law but deemed it minimal and necessary to create peace in the process among other grounds.

In response, the government through the deputy attorney general Mwesigwa Rukutana asked the supreme court to dismiss the appeal and uphold the decision by the Constitutional court that retained the removal of the presidential age-limit .

Rukutana explained that Mabirizi had filed the petition in the constitutional court challenging the Age-limit Bill before it was passed into Law.

Rukutana argued that Mabirizi had no cause of action by then and therefore this appeal cannot stand.

However Mabirizi submitted that the acts he complains of both in his Petition and appeal started way back at the time of tabling and conceptualizing the entire bill before it was assented to by the president.

State had further asked court to dismiss the appeal on grounds that it is indeed incompetent in law as it seeks to challenge an act of parliament not the bill itself.
These submitted that the appeal was merely speculative and narrative as petitioners grounds of appeal do not spell out the actual errors committed by the Constitutional court justices while hearing and adjudicating upon the petition but the appellants just complained that the judges erred in law and fact.

The attorney General explained that he had perused the entire grounds and memorandum of appeal and concluded that the appeal offends several rules of procedure governing pleadings in the Supreme court and hence should be struck out .

He submitted that parliament is a vested with powers to amend the constitution as many times as possible as on behalf of citizens as long as it doesn’t touch on the basic structures of the Constitution.

He argued that article A(102b) regarding the presidential age-limit is not one of the Articles that does not need approval by the citizens in order for it to be amended by Parliament .

However, Justice Katureebe noted that after the removal of term -limits , the only pillar to that Article was only the Age – limit and wondered whether the removal of age -limit was not meant to benefit the incumbent president.

On the 27th of July 2018, the Constitutional court upheld the Constitutional amendments that lifted the presidential age -limit .

Four Justices out of the five justices in a majority decision led by Deputy Cheif Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke and Cheborion Barishaki ruled that the bill was passed constitutionally since there was nothing inconsistent with the constitution as members of parliament lifted the 75 year age limit for a presidential candidate .

These also ruled that it was not a mandatory requirement for such amendments to be carried through a referendum or approved by the public.

They explained that the voters did vest all heir power into Parliament to formulate laws and therefore it would be unreasonable to fault parliament for exercising this power in coming up with the recent Constitutional amendment.

The justices also backed their judgement with the recent recommendation by the Supreme court in the presidential petition of John Amama Mbabazi against Yoweri Kaguta Museveni which called for constitutional amendments regarding the presidential minimum and maximum age .

However Justice Kenneth Kakuru in a descenting judgement dismissed the constitutional amendments on grounds that they were unconstitutional.

Justice Kakuru explained that the amendments did not represent the true will and sovereignty of the people of Uganda.

Justice Kakuru did explain that participation is key to any constitutional amendments and short of it , causes the whole amendment to be a nullity.

He further explained that the way the Mps claimed to have conducted consultation meetings with their electorate was by far unfortunate since they used social media and Ipads as submitted by the Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukuntana.

They described the move as selfish and intended to deny other people from standing also.

On the 18th of January 2018, six opposition MPs led by the leader of parliament Winifred Kiiza petitioned the Constitutional court seeking orders to nullify the newly enacted age-limit law saying it contravened several articles of the Constitution.

These filed the suit through their lawyers Erias Lukwago and Ladislausi Rwakafuzi, saying they were aggrieved with the entire process and the actual enactment of the age-limit law which they allege was tainted with flaws and untold tension.

These were also joined by city lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi who represented himself and Uganda Law Society a led by its president Francis Gimara.

Through renowned law prof Fredrick Ssempbewa and the Agago North MP prof. Morris Ogenga Latigo, Uganda Law Society stated that it was aggrieved with the whole process of conceptualizing, tabling, consultation , debating and passing of the age-limit bill in parliament on the 20th of December 2017 which did not put into consideration of Civil liberties of Ugandans .

According to ULS, the whole processes that lead to the passing of the law including security forces entering parliament to assault and arrest opposition MPs , the intorrelence and participan behaviour of security agencies and failure to comprehensively consult citizens on the matter were in violations of the constitution.

The MPs were seeking the constitutional court to annul the age-limit law on grounds that it did not reflect the true will of Ugandans since police restricted country wide consultations to collect people’s views coupled by the many irregularities exhibited its debating and passing.

They also wanted the action of president Museveni to assent to an illegal bill and the a decision to withdraw money from the consolidated fund to give each MP 29 million shillings to consult his/electorate unconstitutional.

Meanwhile the ULS also wanted the Constitutional court to declare that it was unconstitutional for parliament to pass a private members bill(Magyezi bill) whose effect was to have payments made from the consolidated fund to facilitate the extended tenure of office for MPs and LG Councillors from five years to seven years that put a stretch on the tax payers money by calling for Electoral commission to hold separate presidential and parliamentary elections.

The lawyers wanted further court to declare that having limitations to holding public offices is the core spirit of constitutionalism in a free and democratic society .

On the 27th of December 2017 president Museveni accented to the bill and has since been gazetted, however, the aggrieved MPs claimed that the now law was published and gazetted without instructions from the clerk to parliament

Age Limit Hearing Day 2: Attorney General Byaruhanga asks judges to dismiss appeal

By Sania Babirye

Hearing of the age – limit appeal has entered its second day at the Supreme court with the Attorney General William Byaruhanga asking the seven justices of the supreme court led by chief Justice Bart Katureebe to dismiss the appeal with costs.

While responding to the petitioners submissions made on Tuesday, Byaruhanga says the appeal is merely speculating and narrating since it does not give the exact errors that the petitioners claim the justices of the Constitutional court upheld in the Constitutional amendments which lifted an age limit for a sitting president both
minimum and maximum.

However Justice Bart Katureebe has ordered that the hearing of the appeal does continue but promised to deal with his objection in the final judgement of court.

Byaruhanga has submitted that the appeal is not challenging the Bill but only complains of the irregularities committed by parliament while passing the bill which can not be a basis to declare the entire age limit law null and void.

According to the Attorney General, parliament is vested with powers to amend the constitution on behalf of the public for as long it does not touch on those articles which are entrenched (ezinyikizidwa) in the Constitution and A(102b) regarding the presidential age -limit is not among them.

However, Justice Katureebe has reminded the AG of A(79) of the Constitution which empowers Parliament to make laws for peace , order and good governance of the nation and then tasked him to address the appellants’ fear if the recent Constitutional amendments which removed the presidential age -limit were not meant to benefit the incumbent president? To which Byaruhanga has replied in the negative.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana has submitted that Parliament was right to proceed with this private members bill because it imposed no charge on the Consolidated fund .

According to Rukutana, parliament was right to consider the bill since the Magyezi bill do not impose a charge on the Consolidated fund.

Rukutana also argues that was right to suspend its own rules of procedure by not giving the three day allowance between the tabling and debating of the bill.

when asked by the justices to show the urgency about the bill that led to parliament flaunting its own rules, Rukutana has replied that there had been delays and parliament had eaten within its time

Hearing continues.

Nobert Mao doesn’t trust Constitution review commission committee. They’re NRM carders

By Robert Segawa

The opposition Democratic party well comes the idea of the Constitution review commission, but it doesn’t trust the members who are nominated on it. The president general of DP Nobert Mao while addressing the media at their offices in Kampala, says that the selection which was made will not reflect the views of members of the public since they were not involved.

He sighted the examples of the former attorney general DR Kiddu Makubuya who didn’t handle the issue of Oil in good way, while other members are staunch NRM carders.

This is in reaction to the letter forwarded to the president containing the proposed committee appointees by the minister of justice and constitutional affairs Maj General Kahinda Otafire.

The president general of DP Nobert Mao while addressing the media at  their offices in Kampala
The president general of DP Nobert Mao while addressing the media at their offices in Kampala

He sighted the examples of the former attorney general DR Kiddu Makubuya who didn’t handle the issue of Oil in good way, while other members are staunch NRM carders.

This is in reaction to the letter forwarded to the president containing the proposed committee appointees by the minister of justice and constitutional affairs Maj General Kahinda Otafire.

Mao says that since July 2017 democratic party have agitated for a review commission in the time of private members bill_ Kogikwatako but they were not given chance to have their views appropriately.

He gives the examples of representation where members of the public needed to hold absolute power on the proposed law on the issue of representation.

He is cautiously optimistic about the individuals who are appointed saying they are like forest leaves, and the committee needs young blood from the old carders, says Mao.

All along DP has been agitating on issues including independent of parliament and reducing its size from the big number to a reasonable one which will have autonomy on the legislation discussed and passed into an act.

He further notes that the judiciary has to be independent without siding with the government to give the necessary justice where it’s viable and the autonomy of the electoral commission which is under the same ministry.

The Supreme Court sets new dates for Age Limit appeal hearing.

By Sania Babirye
The Supreme Court has set the 15th and 16th of January 2019 to hear an appeal filed in respect of a  Mable Constitutional court ruling that upheld  Constitutional amendments which lifted the cap from the minimum and maximum presidential age – limit.
This is after today  the parties involved in this appeal held a conferencing hearing before a panel of 7 justices headed by the Chief Justice Bart Katureebe and presented to court the outcome of a meeting they had yesterday at the Ministry of Justice boardroom.
The Attorney General  William Byaruhanga who is the head of the bar has addressed  court that in yesterday ‘s meeting parties agreed to consolidate the 3 appeals into one because they all rise from the same judgement and address similar issues, that parties agreed on 8 issues to be determined by court and that lastly  parties opted to file written submissions following schedules given by court as opposed to oral submissions which consume time.
Among the agreed issues is one  whether the  4  Constutional court  justices who were part of the panel that  heard  the petition at Mbale committed procedural errors , whether they erred in law and fact to hold that the removal of the presidential and LCV officials  age -limit was not inconsistent with the Constitution .
Others are  whether the justices erred in law and fact to hold that the entire process of conceptualizing, debating and enactment of the age-limit law didnot contravene the constitution and whether or not the presence of violence in and outside Parliamnet during the debating of the Age -limit bill didnot contravene the constitution.
The Chief Justice has ordered  that  parties should  file and serve each other with  their  written submissions of not more than 50 pages  by not later than  31st /December/2018 .
After which ; the Justice  Katureebe  ordered that each party wil have an honour to adress and highlight its submissions on the 15th and 16th /January 2018 following which court will retire to write and deliver its judgement on notice .
However as it has become a  norm , one of the appellants lawyer Male Mabirizi had rejected one of the justices on the panel;  Richard Buteera but the Cheif Justice Katureebe was quick to a dress his fears saying justice Buteera is sitting on today’s panel for pre-trial purposes but Justice Eldard Mwangusya  who is currently out of the country is the one to sit on the quorum to hear the actual appeal .
Mabirizi also raised an application to summon the speaker of Parliamnet Rebecca Kadaga for cross-examination during the hearing but justice Katureebe informed him that there was no quorum to hear his application.
In court the appellants including Uganda Law society , 6 opposition MPs and Male Mabirizi and the respondent ;  AG William Byaruhanga together with his deputy Mwesigwa Rukuntana were present.

Justice Elizabeth Musoke delivers her independent judgment

By Sania Babirye

Justice Elizabeth Musoke is the second justice to deliver her independent judgement in the ongoing consolidated presidential age limit constitutional petition ruling taking place at Mbale high court.

Like justice Barishaki Cheborion, Justice Musoke that it was unconstitutional for the MPs to extend their term in office from five to  seven years and that of the local government councils.
Justice Musoke has explained that the move defeats the will of the people to elect their own leaders.

Justice Musoke has also concurred with fellow justice Barishaki that the speaker acted within her mandate to expel the the 25 MPs since they were acting in unacceptable manner.

However Justice Musoke says the armed forces at the invitation of the sergeant of arms was reasonable while evicting the expelled MPs and that the military presence did not cause any panic.
She supports speaker’s decision to expel the 25 Mps and the use of reasonable force by armed forces to evict the said Mps who had engaged them selves in an exceptionally unusual behavior. She adds that the presence of Militarily did not cause any panic to the house since business in the house  went back tò normal when the bill was being passed.
She also says that there was no financial implication on the consolidated fund since its budget was neutral .

Justice Musoke however rules that the presence of the military police /UPDF was uncalled for and unjustified and that parliament security should have contained the violence by itself.

 On the issue of removal of the age limit, Justice Musoke says that parliament acted in its mandate since such provisions are entrenched.
Justice Musoke has explained that although the removal of the age limit might lead to the incumbent to over  stay  in power, the citizens have powers to either vote him back or throw him out.
She has also awarded costs to the petitooners because the petition partly succeeded,involved extensive research.
Justice Kenneth Kakuru is currently reading his individual judgement.
The petitioners nerd at least three justiced out of the five to have their petition successful.

Justice Barishaki kicks off judgment on the age limit

By Sania Babirye
Justice Barishaki is delivering his judgement on the MPs extension of their term of office from five to seven years and that of local government councils.
He is quoting the a legislative history of Uganda and the Uganda Constitutional commission of 1995 report by  Prof.Sempebwa   for proper guide line.
He says he takes the recommendations into account for proper guidelines.
He states as a result public participation is very important for proper affairs of the country.
Sepebwa report explains that peoples  views on the enlargement of term of MPs and LG officials is an indirect way of holding office without consent and will  from people since the first contract was to hold office for only 5 yrs.
On the historical parliamentary chaos, he observes that these events rolled out because the members of parliament did not listen to the speaker as the head of the house.

Justice Barishaki further rules that the attorney general failed to adduce any evidence to prove that their was public participation   which is key to any constitutional amendment  since no referendum was held there by parliament exceeding its authority to extend  its term of office for more 2 years from five to seven.

He adds that parliament tried to evade the people’s powers and the amendment and its sections are null and void.
The extension was selfish and is against the principles of   good governance.
He adds that if it was dine in good faith it should have been made in the coming 2020 general elections.
Justice Cheborion has ruled that the speaker of parliament acted within the law  when she suspended the opposition MPs from the house and that if they had respected the speaker when she called the house to order the violence inflicted on them by military police would not have happened.
Justice Barishaki further rules that  even though Mps have a right to participate in each and every debate, the speaker had the  powers to throw out an  MP who conducts himself In manner that disrupts debate.
Mps had started throwing chairs and parliament staff had been injured, an MP had entered the chambers with a gun .therefore Cheborion rules that the involvement of army was justified since it was a state of emergency.
He says that the MPs engaged in misconduct and the military police had to be called in to assist the parliament security that had been overpowered by the rioting MPs at the invitation of the speaker.
He however says that the military police used excessive force and the process subjected the MPs to inhumane and degrading treatment.
He also rules that the Mps arrest and detention was uncalled for since the speaker only ordered that they be removed from the chambers of Parliament.
He rules that parliament was not besieged as alleged by the petitioners since the military police was only there at the invitation of the Sergent of arms  to contain the riot.
Judge says no evidence to show that the said directive or violence on the MPs affected country wide consultations which would lead to the nullification of entire bill.
On the private Members bill to be funded by government: Justice Barishaki has ruled that it did not have a financial implication on the consolidated fund  and that the bill was budget neutral.

He explained that it is not unconstitutional for a private members bill to be funded by government and just because it had the name Rapheal Magyezi  bill it did not make it a private bill .
Justice Barishaki has also explained that the 29 million shillings that was each given to MPs for consultation did not have a financial implication since the clerk of parliament testified that it had been budget for by parliament.

More witnesses being grilled at the age limit hearing

The government legal team led by the Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana has been probed at-length over emerging information that Parliaments decision to entrench the Presidential term limits is not reflected in the Constitutional Amendment Act 2017.

Parliament in December last year passed the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017. The bill among others lifted the presidential age limits and restored the Presidential terms limits.

The Parliament during the committee stage also adopted a motion by Budadiri West MP, Nathan Nandala Mafabi urging that the term limits should not only be restored but also entrenched.

By agreeing to the Mafabi motion by majority vote, Parliament had in effect moved the article about the restored term limits and included among entrenched articles of the constitution under article 260. Article 260 details articles of the constitution whose amendment requires the holding a referendum.

The constitutional court hearing in Mbale was plunged into a lengthy exchange between the judges and the Attorney General’s legal team after it emerged that the entrenchment of the Presidential term limits is missing from the Act assented to by the President.

The Court has been probing into the matter since Tuesday when Clerk to Parliament, Jane Kibirige was cross-examined on the fact that the Nandala Mafabi amendment seemed to have not been extracted from the official record of Parliament-the Hansard for inclusion in the amended Constitution.

The Acting Director of Civil Litigation, Christine Kaahwa seemed to have opened a can of worms for the Attorney General’s legal team when she submitted that article 260 of the constitution was not amended.

Deputy Chief Justice, Alphonse Owiny-Dollo followed by other judges seemed to disagree with Kaahwa’s submission leading to a lengthy probe.

Justice Owiny-Dollo said his side was relying on the record tendered by the Attorney General, not the petitioners.  The Clerk to Parliament on cross-examination on an affidavit she swore in defense of the amendment, admitted that the speaker had put a question in relation to the Nandala Mafabi motion and the House decided on that.

The question at the hearing was whether the Constitutional Amendment Act 2017 as it is, reflects the decision of Parliament.

Kaahwa insisted that the claim that article 260 was amended would create an absurdity because the final Act does not show that article 260 of the Constitution was amended.

Justice Kenneth Kakuru overruled Kaahwa’s submission saying submissions from the respondents led by Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana was causing confusion.

The Deputy Attorney General who is leading the respondent’s side later admitted that the Nandala motion had been adopted by Parliament. Rukutana’s admission attracted another round of questions from the judges. Justice Remmy shot first followed by Justice Owiny-Dollo.

Rukutana later said that the said article could be inserted after a referendum is held.

The government according to submission to the court is planning to hold a referendum in line with the Constitution Amendment Act 2017

~URN

 

Rukutana says Government acted with in the law on age limit

Deputy  Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukuntana  has told court in Mbale hearing the age limit petition  that  parliament acted within the law and prescribed procedures to amend the Constitution including the lifting of the 75 year old presidential age limit and enlargement of the MPs and LC5 leaders tenure term in office from five to seven years.
Rukutana and  solicitor General Francis Atoke led a legal  team of other  18 state Attorneys  in their effort to prove before a panel of five justices that the law was constitutionally passed. He adds that government did not break any law while facilitating the entire process leading to the amendment of the constitution including the  funds from the consolidated fund to pay 29 million shillings to each mp  fir consultations.