The Speaker of Uganda’s Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has revealed the after effects of lifting the Presidential age limits some lawmakers are going through.
While meeting a group of journalists from Sweden on Tuesday at Parliament, Kadaga said lifting the Presidential age limits to allow a person above 75 years of age to stand for President was one of the difficult things the Parliament did.
This was after the journalists asked Kadaga about the 2017 ‘chaotic scenes in parliament during the debate and passing of a law removing presidential age limits. The journalists wanted to know whether the debate had any positive outcome for the country and whether it strengthened the institution of Parliament.
Kadaga responded saying that the amendment of Article 102(b) in the Constitution pitted people against parliament, describing the processing of the Bill as one of the most difficult times for the country.
“I think it was one of those difficult things that MPs had to do. Actually even now, there are MPs who are unable to go back to the constituency because the people out there didn’t like the decisions they took,” Kadaga said, adding: “That amendment pitted people against Parliament, and then within Parliament itself, there were people with different positions. It was I think one of the most difficult four months we had in the history of this country because the whole country was on tension.”
She added: “The difficulty is that there is only one Parliament that has to do the work, you may not like it, but someone has to do it. This is Parliament, if a bill is there, you have to process it; you can’t take it to the market. You must do it in Parliament.”
It should be noted that in December 2017, Parliament removed the age limits for persons seeking the office of the president and local government offices, eliminating the last hurdle for President Yoweri Museveni to seek re-election when his term of office ends in 2021.
The amendment of Article 102(b) followed chaotic scenes with plain clothed security personnel raiding the Chambers to forcefully eject MPs who had been suspended by the Speaker, a move that saw fighting ensue between the security personnel and MPs.
A number of MPs were also detained at different police stations and later released with no charges as parliament debated the then controversial Bill.
Recently, the majority National Resistance Movement (NRM) MPs that voted in favour of the Bill held a party in Kiboga district. The celebrations went on despite criticism from the Opposition legislators who have since petitioned court to challenge the amendments. At the party, NRM agreed to also extend the President’s term from five to seven years.
When asked d for her opinion on whether Uganda was ready for a female President, Kadaga declined delving into the debate.
The cautious Kadaga simply said that Africa was changing as well as the world and that anything was possible.
She concluded her statement saying that the former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman president in Africa who retired in January this year after serving two elective terms has been a good role model and that slowly by slowly, more women will assume the top office in Africa.
The Speaker’s remarks come ahead of the 8th March celebrations to mark International Women’s Day. The group of journalists who were paying Kadaga a courtesy call was led by the Ambassador of Sweden Per Lindgarde.