28 March 2018

Uganda: Five Judges Chosen to Hear Age Limit Petitions

Photo: Daily Monitor
The five justices of the court will commence with submissions of the petitioners including Uganda Law Society and Kampala Lord Mayor Elias Lukwago, who represents Members of Parliament challenging the amendment (file photo).

Kampala — A panel of five judges has been selected to hear the consolidated constitutional petitions challenging the process and subsequent amendment of the Constitution.

The judges include Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke, Cheborion Barishaki and Kenneth Kakuru.

The Constitutional Court also set April 9 for hearing of the petitions filed by former presidential candidates Male Mabirizi and Abed Bwanika, Uganda Law Society, aggrieved citizens of Tooro sub-region and Members of Parliament. The hearings will take place in Mbale District.

Key issues

The petitioners are challenging the legality of amending the Constitution in regard to age limit for a presidential candidate, the presence of security personnel in Parliament as well as the extension of the terms for both the President and MPs.

On Monday, activists protested the move by Judiciary to transfer the hearing of petitions to Mbale, citing breach of law and erosion of transparency of the Judiciary.

A total of 22 civil society organisations said the decision, announced by Deputy Chief Justice Owiny-Dollo, was in contravention of Article 135(3)(b) which requires a statutory order.

Addressing journalists in Ntinda near Kampala, Mr Andrew Karamagi, a lawyer, warned that the financial implications of moving the Constitutional Court to Mbale are wasteful.

"The costs being incurred by the petitioners, their counsel and support staff in transportation and upkeep in Mbale are prohibitive, unplanned for and unduly constraining. It constitutes a curtailment of the right to access to justice," Mr Karamagi said.

The executive director of Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLiSS), Mr Godber Tumushabe, described the transfer of the petition as systematic effort by State agencies to "destroy" the Constitution.

"This is a conspiracy against the citizens to mutilate the Constitution and the Judiciary has now joined. We are left with no choice but to step up because there has been a constant cry for lack of money, but all of a sudden we find it unfair for transferring the court session from the scene of crime in Kampala," he said.

Mr Tushabe urged citizens to stand up against what he described as 'conspiracy to destroy the remains of the Constitution' and the judiciary to rescind its decision.

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