A section of veterans from the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party Veterans League have told the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee that Article 102(b) of the Constitution does not make sense and should be repealed.
The League is composed of largely former men and women of National Resistance Army (NRA), a rebel army that captured state power in 1986 and later became Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
Retired Major General Jim Muhwezi, the chairperson of the NRM Veterans League today led a team of other eight members of the League’s National Executive Committee to present their views on the Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017. Among those who accompanied Muhwezi to the committee include Lieutenant Ibrahim Muyomba, Corporal Rose Katusiime and Lieutenant Wasswa Juma among others.
The Bill tabled by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, seeks to among others repeal Article 102(b) of the Constitution which puts 35 and 75 as lower and upper caps respectively on the presidential age.
Those opposed to the amendment say the move would eliminate the last hurdle for President Yoweri Museveni to seek re-election when his current term of office expires in 2021. Born in 1944 and in power since 1986, President Museveni wouldn’t be eligible to contest for the presidency in 2021 since he will be above 75 years of age.
According to Muhwezi, veterans find logic in the removal of Article 102(b) saying that stopping a person aged 75 years from standing to be President does not make sense.
“Going by our history, the leaders that have brought political turbulence have been much younger than 75 years,” said Muhwezi.
Muhwezi, a veteran of the 1981-1986 war, cited the 1966 crisis in Uganda when Prime Minister Milton Obote “abrogated the Constitution and attacked the Kabaka of Buganda.” Obote was aged 41 years at the time.
“In 1971 when Idi Amin staged a military coup and massacred people and destroyed the economy he was just 46 years,” said Muhwezi.
Muhwezi said that there is no need to segregate among age groups questioning why the young should be stopped from standing for leadership. This, he said, contradicts the constitution which guarantees every one equal opportunity.