Supreme Court upholds presidential age-limit removal

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Uganda’s Supreme Court has upheld the removal of the 75-year age limit allowing President Museveni to run for presidency in 2021.

President Museveni, currently at 74 years can now seek re-election 1n 2021 following the decision of the Supreme Court to uphold the ruling given by the constitutional court on the amendment of the constitution.

With the panel of 7 judges, 4 judges ruled in favor of upholding the amendment while 3 ruled against.

The decision from the Supreme Court ruling dismissed the challenge from the petitioners who had appealed against the ruling from the constitutional court to remove the age cap of 75 years for presidential aspirants.

In 2017, Article 102(b) of the Ugandan Constitution that barred anyone below 35 years and above 75 years to stand for presidency was amended by the Parliament amidst stiff challenge from the opposition MPs and moderates from the ruling NRM party. The Members of Parliament from the two opposing sides were involved in brawls on the floor of Parliament as the amendment was achieved having been backed by 317 MPS that satisfied the three quarters required.

President Museveni, who has ruled Uganda since seizing power as a rebel leader in 1986, is now free to seek re-election in 2021 presidential elections and as many times as he wants thereafter following the Thursday ruling.

Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana described the ruling as “a big win for Uganda”.

“On behalf of myself and all the people of Uganda, I am highly indebted. This was the most reasoned judgment, well balanced. Their Lordships expressed their views and we respect all the views and at the end of the day, we are extremely happy that justice has been done. I want to congratulate the people of Uganda and I want to congratulate the members of the NRM,” he said. “We are elated. This is a sign of how democracy has taken root in the country,” he added.

Kampala Mayor, and a lawyer for the petitioners, Erias Lukwago while commenting on the ruling said: “it is democracy that suffers”.
“It is a disappointment, but in Africa, it is a miracle to win against a sitting government,” he said.

Many observers had expected the ruling to in Museveni’s favor but they were surprised by the narrow margin of the decision as described by Kasen Male Mabirizi, who was one of the petitioners and an activist from Uganda Law Society. “The ruling was so close. Museveni will take a lesson from it,” he said.

Museveni’s Life Presidency?

In 2005, the constitution was amended and a two-term limit was scrapped to allow president Museveni to stand for re-election and he went on to claim the third term. This was followed by the recent removal of the age-limit that could prevent Museveni from running once he reaches 75 years. All these moves have been described by his critics as a way of opening up the possibility for him to rule for life.

Contradiction?

President Museveni was quoted to have once said that leaders who “overstayed” were the root of Africa’s problems. However, in 2016, while contesting for the fifth term, the president said it was not the right time for him to leave since he still had work to do.

Overstay?

There has been growing discontent among Ugandans especially the youth of which majority Museveni is the only Ugandan president they have seen in their lifetime. This has been evident as these young Ugandans have rallied behind the pop star-turned-politician Bobi Wine who has taken the front in challenging Museveni’s government recently.

Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and the MP for Kyadondo East, speared headed recent protests in Uganda including against the age-limit amendment, mobile money and social media tax, among others. He recently told CNN in an interview that he was “seriously considering” challenging