East Africa: EA Court Starts Hearing Uganda's Age Limit Case

The East African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania, yesterday started hearing the case where Ugandan lawyer Male Mabirizi is challenging the decision of the Supreme Court in upholding the amendment of the Constitution to remove the clause on the age limit for presidents.

The hearing was by way of video conferencing in observance of the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).

Ugandan judge Monica Mugenyi, who is also the principal judge of the regional court, presided over the hearing.

Mr Mabirizi filed the case in the regional court last year.

Other judges on the panel are Charles Nyawello and Charles Nyachae.

Initially, the hearing of Mr Mabirizi's case, which is termed as a reference, had been scheduled for March 18 and March 30 but was disrupted by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Yesterday, Mr Mabirizi made his submissions justifying why the regional court should declare as "null and void", the amendment of the Ugandan Constitution to remove the presidential age limit clause.

He also sought a declaration that the removal of the age limit safeguard or amendment of the Constitution to remove the president age limit under Article 102 (b) of the Constitution is contrary to Articles 6(d), 7(2), 8(1) (c) and 123(3)(c) of the EAC Treaty.

Mr Mabirizi contends that the Uganda government amended the presidential age limit clauses (102b) through violence and deployment of military police in and outside Parliament, among other misdeeds, which he says are unconstitutional. He also states that the same age limit amendment was done without complying with the strict procedures contained in the Constitution, Acts of Parliament, and Rules of Procedure of Parliament.

He also wants the regional court to declare that the several actions and decisions of conceptualising, processing, pursuing and upholding the age limit amendment were unconstitutional and infringed on the treaty that established the East African Community.

The Uganda Attorney General, who is the respondent in this reference, has since argued that the issues raised by Mr Mabirizi were duly resolved by competent local courts and there is no need to revisit them.

After hearing the submissions from both sides, court said it will deliver its judgment on notice.

Background

In April last year, in majority judgment of 4:3, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Constitutional Court that okayed the amendment of Article 102(b) to scrap the upper age limit cap of 75 years and the lower age cap of 35 for anyone to contest for the country's presidency.

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