Removal of age limit for president receives more public backing

Commissioner Uganda Law Reform commission, Mr Patrick Nyakana (R) said there are proposals on opening up age limit for presidency. File Photo

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Official at Uganda Law Reform Commission says removal of presidential age limit has dominated proposals to consider for amendment in the Constitution.

Kampala- Proposals to have the age limit for presidency lifted have dominated the voluminous proposals the Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC) has received as the country prepares to amend the Constitution.

“There are proposals on opening up age limit for presidency. Some individuals propose there should be no age limit for the presidency as long as the President is able, to serve, deliver and people still have faith in him/her,” Mr Patrick Nyakana, a commissioner with ULRC, revealed in an interview with Daily Monitor last week.

Mr Nyakana said most of the proposals the Commission has received are from the public and civil society organisations.

He said other Ugandans are proposing the restoration of the two-presidential term limits that were scrapped off the Constitution in 2005.

He also said there are some people who want the five-year presidential term extended to seven years. But Prof Ben Twinomujuni, a law don at Makerere University, cast a doubt on the percentage of the number of voices agitating for these reforms in comparison to the entire 35 million Ugandans.

“I am an ardent believer in the two presidential term limits whether five or seven years as long as there are two term limits, it’s okay as opposed to these people’s wishes. I believe after two terms, one must have implemented most of his/her manifesto and should be out,” said Prof Twinomujuni in a telephone interview from his upcountry home in Kabale yesterday.

“There is a tendency of leaders becoming dictatorial once they overstay in power like Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and the late Jomo Kenyatta of Kenya,” he added.

He also faulted the earlier framers of the Constitution who put the age limit at 75 saying it should have been at 60 when someone stops being productive. Former Chief Justice Benjamin Odoki said it’s a long time [about 20 years] that he gathered people’s proposals on constitutional reforms before saying he leaves the people’s wishes for Parliament to debate about them.

Mr Ofwono Opondo, the NRM deputy spokesperson, also said the people’s wishes will be debated by Parliament before saying not every popular wish becomes a reality.

Mr Ofwono also said he doubts whether the MPs will extend the five-year presidential term limit to seven like it is in Rwanda.

Mr Nyakana explained that the proposals that have been compiled and will be forwarded to the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire in the second week of January.
Gen Otafiire, its expected, will then present them to Cabinet for consideration.