22 May 2018

Uganda: Court Has 28 Days to Give Verdict On Age Limit Case

Kampala — The Constitutional Court has less than 30 days to deliver the judgment on the presidential age limit petition.

A panel of five justices led by Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo concluded the hearing of the petition on April 19. On that day, Justice Owiny-Dollo said the court would deliver its judgment "on notice."

The other justices are Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki and Kenneth Kakuru.

Legally, this means the date of judgment was not readily known but would be communicated to the respective parties once the court is ready.

"This matter is adjourned and the judgment will be given on notice. The judgment will be delivered from Mbale in this same courtroom..." Justice Dollo revealed at the conclusion of the hearing.

Judicial manual

The Uganda Code of Judicial Conduct manual demands that upon conclusion of hearing of a case with the judgment being reserved, the court is required to deliver its decision within two months thereafter. This means the Constitutional Court has up to June 19 to deliver the highly coveted judgment, which has bred as much anxiety as curiosity.

"A judicial officer shall promptly dispose of the business of the court, but in so doing must ensure that justice prevails. Protracted trial of a case must be avoided wherever possible. Where a judgment is reserved, it should be delivered within 60 days unless for good reason it is not possible to do so," section 6.2 of the Uganda Code of Judicial Conduct reads in part.

Petitioners

During the hearing, the petitioners contended that the entire Constitution amendment process was marred with violence, intimidation, abuse of fundamental human rights, general mayhem and gross disregard of the law and established procedures for such amendments.

The petitioners are also challenging the extension of the presidential term, Parliament and local government councils from five years to seven. But the extension of the presidential term will be first subjected to a referendum.

Amendment

Petition. The petition is challenging the entire process of the amendment of the Constitution that saw the removal of the maximum presidential age limit of 75 and the lower limit of 35 from the Constitution which now allows the 73-year-old President Museveni to contest at the next general election.

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