UGANDA TO CHANGE FOREVER: Tension in Mbale ahead of Age limit case verdict today

UGANDA TO CHANGE FOREVER: Tension in Mbale ahead of Age limit case verdict today
Eazzy Banking

The Constitutional sitting in Mbale is today delivering the much-awaited judgment on the constitutional petitioned challenging the amendment of the constitution by Parliament in December 2017, that saw the removal of all age limits on the Presidency and extended the term of office of Members of Parliament including the current Parliament from 5-7 years.

Preparations for the ruling began early in the week, and the justices of the Constitutional Court arrived in Mbale last evening.

According to the judiciary Spokesperson Solomon Muyita, preparations have been made to accommodate an extra number of people in a tent outside the courtroom, due the limited capacity of Mbale High Court.

The tents have been equipped with television Screens to allow those outside the courtroom to follow the proceedings.

Police in Mbale has also issued guidelines ahead of the age limit petition ruling.

The Officer in Charge of Traffic in Mbale, Denis Kiwanuka, says all major roads leading to the High Court will be closed to reduce on the flow of traffic along Republic Street and Uhuru lane.

Sowedi Mansur, the Elgon Region Spokesperson, says police will deploy heavily in the town to ensure there is no chaos during and after the ruling.

The Mbale Resident District Commissioner, James Shiliku spoke to our reporter on security preparations ahead of the ruling. On 19th April 2018, 5 justices of the Consititional Court including Deputy Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny Dollo, Remmy Kasule, Kenneth Kakuru, Cheborion Barishaki and Elizabeth Musoke promised the public that they would be returning to the same court room, where the petition was heard, for delivery of a judgement that they put on notice.

Among the 14 issues that the justices are to decide on, is whether the entire process of conceptualizing, debating, passing and assenting to the age-limit law was lawful, whether the extension of the MPs’  current  term of office from 5 to 7 years without consulting their electorate was constitutional, and whether the act of security invading parliamentary chambers during the debate was lawful.

When engaged, the Executive Director of Chapter Four Uganda Nicholas Opio, believes the constitutional court cannot nullify the entire constitutional amendment law that removed presidential age limits, among other amendments.

He says courts are always hesitant to strike down an entire law, unless the petitioners have made a convincing argument on a procedural irregularity.

Opio does not believe that the petitioners made a case for a procedural irregularity to nullify the entire amendment.

The petitioners who included the Uganda Law Society, 6 opposition MPs, One Prosper Busingye and Advocates Jonathan Abaine and Male Mabirizi, through their respective lawyers highlighted to court 4 major reasons why the Age- limit law should be nullified.

Opio predicts that the provision that the court is most likely to nullify is the extension of the term of parliament and local government from five to seven years.

Opio asserts that the political interest by President Yoweri Museveni in the removal of the upper and lower age limits makes it impossible for the courts to nullify this provision.

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