15 January 2018

Uganda Law Society Goes to Court to Challenge Age Limit Law

Photo: Gaël Grilhot/RFI
President Yoweri Museveni

Kampala — The Uganda Law Society (ULS) has filed a petition in the Constitutional Court challenging the newly enacted "Age Limit" law.

The Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 that's dubbed the "Age Limit" bill, was in the week before Christmas passed with the requried two-thirds majority.

The MPs passed the tenure of parliament to be extended from five to seven years. The MPs approved a 7-year term for Parliament and local governments positions starting with ongoing term and followed up this by lifting the age limit of 75 for one to contest for presidency.

The thrust of the petition by the lawyers, to what they referred to as the "Constitution (Amendment) Act 2018, is the amendment of Article 8 that extends the current tenure of MPS and local council councilors for more 2 years.

THE ULS said they are aggrieved "that article 8 of the Constitution Act 2018 which extends the term of the current parliament by 2 years is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 1, 8A, 77(4) and 96 of the constitution.

ULS said they are aggrieved with "Article 10 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2018 to the extent that the term of all current local government councils is extended by two years is inconsistent with and a contravention of Articles 1 and 8A of the Constitution."

ULS went ahead to argue that " Article 8 of the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2018 which by implication will require the Electoral Commission to organize separate elections for the President and Members of Parliament due to unconstitutional divergence from the uniform five-year presidential and parliamentary terms unconstitutionally infects Article 105(1) and is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 1, 8A, and 260(1) (f) of the Constitution."

Museveni signs

President Museveni last month signed into law the amendment that reimposes a two-term limit on the presidency scrapped by ruling party MPs in 2005.

In his new year address, President Yoweri Museveni saluted the Members of Parliament (MPs) that supported the 'Age Limit' Bill.

"I want to salute the 317 MPs who defied intimidation, malignment and blackmail and opted for a flexible constitution to deal with the destiny issues of Africa instead of maintaining Uganda on the path of unimaginative, non-ideological, neo-colonial status quo ," he said as he concluded his new year address on Sunday that covered issues related to security, economy, integration, Africa and the Congo.

"By so doing, they enabled us to avoid the more complicated paths that would have been required," he added.

What next after Museveni signed?

In a letter to the Clerk to Parliament, the President signified his assent to the Bill on Wednesday, 27 December 2017.

The Act prescribes 18 years as the age for prospective presidential candidates, from the 35 previously prescribed by the old legal regime.

The upper age limit for presidential candidates has also been removed, together with that of Local Councils Chairpersons. Equally, Parliament's term has been extended from five to seven years, beginning with the 10th Parliament.

Local Councils' terms are also extended from five to seven years, beginning with the current tenure.

General elections for Local Councils and Parliament will now be held in 2023, from the 2021 envisaged in the pre-existing legal order.

According to section 13(1) of the Acts of Parliament Act, "every Act shall be published by the government printer as soon as possible after the president's assent has been signified... "

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