A move by the executive to table a piecemeal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2017 on land acquisition triggered protests from parliament yesterday, with many MPs questioning why the omnibus amendment bill is not ready.
Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana was forced to read out the contents of the bill, after MPs demanded to know whether it contained an amendment to remove the 75-year upper age limit for presidential candidates.
Rukutana later told Jounalists, that the omnibus bill that includes amending Article 102(b) on the age limit, a move he confessed supporting, will come to parliament this year.
Regarding the other constitutional amendments, including the age limit, Rukutana revealed that a list of 18 names had been sent to the president to pick the Constitution Review Commission, which will seek views from Ugandans on the amendments. A report generated from that will form the basis for the omnibus Constitution (Amendment) Bill, Rukutana explained.
Other amendments include electoral reforms arising from the Supreme court presidential election petition. Asked whether amendment of the age limit is likely to feature prominently, Rukutana said that amending Article 102(b) is a popular move that many people, including himself, are interested in.
“We want it [age limit] to be amended, including me, because it is out of date. I am on record since the Constituent Assembly days saying that limiting somebody from leadership because of his age is discriminatory,” Rukutana said.
“As long as somebody is voted for, the person should be free to offer himself. If he is frail and senile, during the campaigns the people will see him and say, oh this man, because of his age he cannot manage, and they will not vote him,” the minister added.
After The Observer reported last week that a constitution amendment bill that includes Article 102(b) was set to be gazetted, some top NRM leaders claimed that such a bill doesn’t exist.
According to Rukutana, the omnibus bill will be tabled in parliament before the end of this year.