19 September 2017

Uganda: MPs Scuffle At Parliament Over Age Limit

Photo: Solomon Arinaitwe/Daily Monitor
Police officers intervene in the fight between Ayivu County MP, Bernard Atiku and Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga, one of the MPs supporting the lifting of presidential age limit.

As the debate on the contentious planned lifting of the presidential age limit escalate, some politicians have decided to settle their differences physically.

Ayivu County MP, Mr Bernard Atiku was on Tuesday spotted scuffling with Arua Municipality MP, Mr Ibrahim Abiriga, one of the MPs supporting the lifting of presidential age-limit.

When contacted, Mr Atiku said the scuffle ensued after Mr Abiriga accused him of hiring youth to attack him (Abiriga) during the Saturday football match between Onduparaka and Maroons FC in Luzira.

"I was walking out of Parliament to pick some documents in my car and I found Abiriga standing with a group of journalists on the steps of Parliament. Then Hon. [David] Abala (Ngora County) stopped me to inquire about some information. As I was talking to him, I heard Abiriga abusing me. Then as I moved closer to ask what he was saying, Abiriga started abusing me that I'm a stupid fellow and a fool," he said.

Mr Atiku said: "He (Abiriga) claims that I bought youth to abuse him during the game of Onduparaka and Maroons FC in Luzira. When I tried to explain to Abiriga that I was not at the game on Saturday, he insisted that I was there as attacked me. I pushed him away and that's when police moved in to separate us."

By the time of filing this story, Mr Abiriga could not be reached for a comment as his known telephone numbers were off.

Meanwhile, Parliament will discuss a motion on the presidential age limit on Thursday.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah, says he received a notice from a Member of Parliament requesting to present a motion to the House to make some recommendations to government on the presidential age limit.

Mr Oulanyah says he spoke to the speaker, Ms Rebecca Kadaga on Monday morning on the motion and received a copy of the motion the same day in the evening signed by three legislators. He says a second notice of motion was presented to the Speaker from another member of the House on Wednesday morning.

However, Mr Oualnyah says all the motions relating to the age limit debate will not come to the floor of Parliament until when he meets the Speaker to discuss the notices on Thursday morning.

He says if need be, the Business Committee will be given time to meet and handle the matter.

Speaker Oulanyah, however, says the motions will be included on the order paper if it is decided by the authority of the speaker. He cautions legislators against exciting the public on the matter.

Last week, about 240 MPs aligned to the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party endorsed a proposal to repeal Article 102 (b), which restricts the presidential age to be between 35 and 75 years.

The move is allegedly aimed at paving way for President Museveni to seek another term of office since he will be above 75 years in 2021.

On Friday, Cabinet also endorsed a proposal by the Igara West MP, Mr Raphael Magyezi to table a private member's bill on the floor of Parliament on the matter.

The debate on the presidential age limit has raised concern across the country leading to protests by a section of Ugandans against the proposed amendment.

On Monday, police picked up 14 youth activists belonging to group dubbed "The Alternative" for staging protests against the proposal.

Police have also summoned four legislators including Mr Muhammad Nsereko, Mr Barnabas Tinkasimire, Mr Theodore Ssekikubo and Mr Allan Ssewanyana, some of the legislators opposed to the lifting of age limit, for allegedly inciting violence.

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