13 December 2017

Uganda: New, Old MPs Split Over Age Limit Bill

Photo: The Observer
A Makerere University student and anti-age limit protester was manhandled by plain-clothes security officers at Parliament today.

Kampala — Nearly an equal percentage of new and old MPs said they support or oppose the proposal to scrap the presidential age limit, meaning being a senior or newcomer in Parliament has no significant impact on voting decisions.

Our analysis of the MPs' intended voting pattern based on responses collated through telephone and face-to-face interviews as well as publicly proclaimed positions shows that 99 of the 248 MPs serving their first term support the Igara East MP Raphael Magyezi Bill.

The proposed amendment is to delete Article 102(b) of the Constitution which provides that any Ugandan is eligible to stand for President only if no younger than 35 years and no older than 75 years.

The 10th Parliament has 424 MPs with voting rights and 248 of them are new members.

Ninety-nine or 40 per cent of the new lawmakers said they would vote "yes", meaning they support the lifting of the age cap, while 47 or 19 per cent plan to vote against it.

By comparison, 68 MPs, representing 38 per cent of those serving a second or more terms, said they would vote for the Bill. One in every four said they plan to vote "no" or reject the proposal.

The rest of the MPs never responded or indicated that they were still undecided pending conclusion of consultations with their electorates, which was underway at the time of our survey.

Undecided MPs

The high number of undecided or non-responsive MPs (166 in total), who could swing to the "yes", "no" side or abstain altogether, implies that the fate of the Bill is theoretically far from sealed when MPs finally take a vote on it.

The Bill first presented in Parliament in September amid fist-fighting by MPs, is due for a second reading after which the House will resolve into a committee of the whole House to scrutinise it clause-by-clause.

Voting

It is at this stage that any MP can propose any amendment, which if supported, will become part of enacted law.

Two-thirds of all MPs with voting rights will require voting in favour for the Bill to pass.

The voting at the second and third reading of the Bill will be by roll call and tally.

Compiled by Moses Kyeyune, Solomon Arinaitwe, Nelson Wesonga, Francis Mugerwa, Felix Basiime, Scovia Atuhaire, Alfred Tumushabe, Robert Muhereza, Zadock Amanyisa, Felix Ainebyoona, Perez Rumanzi, Gertrude Mutyaba, Sadat Mbogo, Christopher Kisekka, Moses Muwulya

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