Government should explain age limit amendment, says Odama

Monday April 22 2019

Commissioning. Archbishop John Baptist Odama

Commissioning. Archbishop John Baptist Odama opens the new Shs460m medical ward at St Mauritz Health Centre III in Gulu Town yesterday. PHOTO BY TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY 

By TOBBIAS JOLLY OWINY & FRANKLIN DRAKU

Gulu. The Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama has asked government to justify to the country the purpose and implication of the presidential age limit amendment which was upheld by the Supreme Court on Thursday.

In his Easter sermon at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Gulu Town yesterday, the prelate said talks among the population before and after the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the presidential age limit amendment could compromise the prevailing unity and peace in the country.

In a 4-3 majority judgement, the Supreme Court upheld the parliamentary amendment that scrapped the constitutional restriction on a person aged above 75 or 35 from standing for president.
The amendment allowed President Museveni, now aged 74, to be eligible to stand for president again in 2021.

Archbishop Odama told the congregation during the Easter prayers that the level of bickering and criticism by the public implies people are unhappy by the amendment.

“This is an issue that needs consistent explanation which must help people understand so that they get happy about the decision and purpose of the presidential age limit amendment,” he said.
Archbishop Odama said the question of human rights abuse, corruption, and unequal political and economic distribution of state resources in the country by the ruling government is what has set a lot of people criticising the presidential age limit amendment.

“The nation is like a family, when some of the children or the woman is not happy, chaos, division and or even divorce is obvious. It is upon the father of the house to ensure that the source of the problem is tackled, and this is where government must come in to get people to understand this,” Archbishop Odama said.

He urged Ugandans to promote peace and harmony.
“The resurrection of Jesus Christ means rising above evil, the goodness, happiness and peace of God should reign in each of our hearts more than hatred, aggressiveness, domestic violence since we cannot develop as a people once not in harmony,” he said.

In a related development, Christians at Mbuya Catholic Church asked the Supreme Court justices who upheld the age limit amendment to repent.
A number of Christians Daily Monitor interviewed during Easter prayers at Our Lady of Africa Catholic Church in Mbuya said they were disappointed by the Supreme Court ruling on the presidential age limit amendment.

“This effectively ended Ugandans’ hope of seeing a peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next,” one Christian said.
Ms Josephine Adeti, a parishioner at the church, said the Easter season that should have been for jubilation has turned to be for lamenting.

“We should have been celebrating, but here we are lamenting and reflecting on what next for Uganda after the Supreme Court upheld the removal of the age limit,” she said.
Ms Susan Namatovu, a resident of Kinawataka in Kampala, said: “Being a Ugandan is the hardest thing at the moment.”

“This is the toughest time to be a Ugandan. We cannot be amending the Constitution all the time for one person and the judges say it’s fine to do that. They must reflect on their decision and apologise to Ugandans for declaring the country a one person’s state,” she said.
Mr Robert Ojok, a resident of Mutungo, who prays at Mbuya Catholic Church, said all Ugandans should use this period to internalise the impact of the court ruling. He said although the decision was unfortunate, peace should prevail as the struggle continues.

“Every five years we find ourselves in the same saga. We should ask God to forgive the legislators who removed the age limit. We should also ask God to forgive the justices of both the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court. Much as they can abuse the Constitution, they will not amend the death limit,” he said.
However, an NRM mobiliser in Nakawa, who only identified himself as Robert, welcomed the court judgment.
“We need to accept that the court made a decision and that decision has to be respected. I cannot tell you how happy I am, but you can see it,” he said.

Rev Fr John Bosco Wubangizi, the main celebrant, urged Christians to celebrate the Easter carefully and cautioned that they must celebrate responsibly to preserve their lives.
Fr Wubangizi also cautioned motorists to be mindful of the lives of passengers and singled out boda boda cyclists to be careful. “Don’t throw people down like you have done to me on three occasions in one year,” he said.

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