77% want presidential term limits restored

Sunday May 25 2014
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President Museveni at a campaign rally in Mawokota North Constituency in 2010. He won a fourth elective term in 2011. COURTESY PHOTO

A push by the civil society and the Opposition for electoral reforms, especially the demand that presidential term limits be restored, has overwhelming support of the population, a new survey by Daily Monitor shows.

Commissioned by Daily Monitor and the Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform, the poll shows that 77 per cent of Ugandans want presidential term limits that were scrapped from the Constitution in 2005 restored.
Asked “Should term limits be reinstated”, 77 per cent of the 2,142 respondents sampled answered “yes” with the other 23 per cent responding in the negative.

The survey was conducted by Research World International, a research firm, between April 15-27 in the four major regions of the country; north, east, west and central.

The central region had the highest number (86 per cent) of respondents indicating a preference for the restoration of term limits, followed by eastern (84 per cent), northern (70 per cent) while western had 68 per cent support for the proposal.

In terms of gender, more men (81 per cent) indicated support for having term limits back while 74 per cent of the females sampled were in support.
Parliament in 2005 voted to scrap presidential term limits from the Constitution—just one year before President Museveni was to serve out what was his second and last elective term in office.

The lifting of term limits, which was facilitated with a Shs5 million hand-out to each ruling party MP, gave President Museveni the window to contest for a third term in 2006. He also won a fourth elective term in 2011.


Contacted yesterday about these new findings, Mr Gerald Karuhanga, the Western Youth MP, who is moving a Private Members Bill to restore term limits in the Constitution, said he had expected an even higher backing for the proposal.

“Whereas I appreciate the 77 per cent support, I would love it to be 100 per cent because I think that every Ugandan who is interested in the stability of this country should call for the return of presidential term limits,” he said.

Mr Karuhanga added that his Bill and the accompanying motion are with the Speaker, who is expected to fix them on the order paper for debate.
The civil society and the Opposition have also started a national campaign to push for a raft of electoral reforms.

Key among their demands is that Parliament restores the two-term limit for the presidency.
Mr Richard Todwong, the Minister without Portfolio in charge of mobilisation, yesterday said the NRM party would respect the call if it had the backing of majority Ugandans.

“If it is the wish of Ugandans that term limits should be reinstated, then as NRM we have no problem because it is Ugandans in the first place who wanted them removed,” he said.

“I was a member of the Constitutional Review Commission and the issue of term limits removal was overwhelmingly supported.”
But renowned lawyer and political analyst Godber Tumushabe said Mr Todwong was skewing the facts.

“Right from the commencement of the 1995 Constitution to the Ssempebwa Commission, Ugandans generally agreed that there should be term limits. It is only the people in the in the NRM political class that have dissenting voices on the issue of term limits,” Mr Tumushabe said.

When the push for the removal of term limits began in 2003, senior ministers Eriya Kategaya, Bidandi Ssali and Miria Matembe opposed the drive, arguing that it contravened the spirit of democracy.
President Museveni dropped them all in a subsequent reshuffle although Mr Kategaya made it back in 2006 and served as a minister until his death last year.

poll debate today
The public will today have the opportunity to debate these poll findings during a live show to be aired on WBS TV.
The debate, which will be held at the WBS Auditorium in Naguru, Kampala, will start at 2pm and end at 5pm.

Among the speakers are UPC president Olara Ottunu, former minister Amanya Mushega, Leader of Opposition in Parliament Wafula Oguttu, Minister for Presidency Frank Tumwebaze and a host of political and civil society leaders.

The debate is jointly organised by Monitor Publications Ltd, Research World International, Uganda Governance Monitoring platform, NGO Forum and WBS television.

how poll was conducted
-The survey was conducted by Research World International between April 15-17, 2014.
-A total of 2,142 respondents were sampled across the country. Females formed 54 per cent of the sample with males 46 per cent.
-The regional distribution of respondents was as follows: Eastern (29%), Western (27%), Central (22%) and North (22%).
-Of the respondents, 46 per cent had primary education, 27 per cent had been to secondary school, 13 per cent were tertiary graduates, 5 per cent had no education while 2 per cent refused to indicate their academic qualifications.
-A total of 78 per cent of the respondents were in rural areas while 22 per cent were urban residents.
-The poll results are given with a +/-3 per cent margin of error at a 97 per cent confidence level