Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga presiding over plenary on MondayThe Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, Rt Hon Rebecca Kadaga has declined a request by opposition MPs to halt the debate on the Presidential Age Limit Bill which is ongoing in Parliament until court pronounces itself on the issue.
“Let the debate continue for now, I will rule on the matter relating to court proceedings later,” ruled Speaker Kadaga as the second reading of the Bill began.
The Speaker was responding to the queries raised by the leader of opposition, Winnie Kiiza who echoed a procedural point raised by Ndorwa East MP, Wilfred Nuwagaba earlier noting that the Bill is subject to a dispute before the East African Court of Justice and therefore should not be debated or legislated on until the matter is disposed off.
“Wouldn’t it be procedurally correct for you to adjourn the proceedings so that the Speaker and the members can acquaint themselves with the effect of the court proceedings?”, noted Kasese Woman MP, Winnie Kiiza.
The Speaker however questioned the jurisdiction of the said Arusha based court on the issue of age limits.
“Has this Article been tested in this region? Can a court in Arusha say, ‘Parliament close?’. That is why i want to find out the jurisdiction of the Court and give my ruling,” Kadaga stated in response.
Earlier, Kadaga had warned members over misconduct in the house, saying she would suspend whoever misbehaved again for 7 sittings.
However, some opposition MPs chanted the national anthem, claiming strangers had entered into Parliament.
But the Speaker assured them that the said strangers were her personal bodyguards meant for her security and not personnel from the Special Forces Command (SFC) that caused chaos in Parliament in September.
However, this did not go well with the Leader of Opposition who downplayed their role in the House, stating that nobody harboured intentions of harming the Speaker.
“Some of the members have noted, the men who attacked them are in the room. We love you and we would not attack you. It would be good for members to debate freely,” Kiiza said.
The Bill before the House seeks to remove the lower 35 years and maximum 75 years age caps which its architects say are discriminatory.
If passed, it will allow the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni to stand for a sixth consecutive term come 2021.
The political opposition have strongly contested the proposed amendment saying it seeks to favor only PresidentMuseveni. They further say it threatens the constitutional safeguards meant for peaceful transition of power.