Former Ethics and Integrity Minister Miria Matembe has dragged the 10th Parliament to the Constitutional Court accusing it of unlawfully removing presidential term limits during the Constitutional amendments of 2005.
Matembe together with other rights activists; Centre for Constitutional Governance and Legal Brains Trust say it was wrong for parliament to amend the law on term limits without first consulting the public through a referendum.
The petition received by the Constitutional Court registry today, is also accompanied by an affidavit signed by renowned law Professor Fredrick Ssempebwa who chaired the 2001 Constitutional Review Commission that was charged with studying and recommend changes to the 1995 Constitution.
Prof. Ssempebwa however contends that his commission did not recommend the review of Article 105 that concerns presidential term limits but rather referred the issue to be decided through a referendum on grounds that it touched on the foundation of the Constitution.
He adds that he chose to support Matembe in this move because the procedure of the enactment of the 2005 Constitution contravened democratic principles as the deletion of presidential term limits continues to bring Constitutional disorder in the country.
In her petition Matembe recounts the fraudulent acts that happened in parliament during the 2005 Constitutional Amendements where MPS were intimidated and bribed with 5 million shillings each on top of breaching parliamentary rules of secret ballot to ensure that the bribed MPs voted for removal of term limits.
She now wants court to declare as unconstitutional the act of parliament to amend the law on term limits to give way for people to contest for presidency for more than 2 terms as earlier prescribed by the 1995 Constitution.
Matembe’s petition comes at a time the NRM’s Raphael Magyezi is set to table a private members’ bill to debate the amendment of Article 102(b) to remove the presidential age limit without going for a referendum as provided for in Article 1(4) of the Constitution.
Court is yet to summon the Attorney General who has been named as the respondent to file his defence on behalf of parliament
Relatedly, two of the four legislators who are against the lifting of Presidential age limit this morning appeared at CID headquarters in Kibuli amid heavy deployment to record statements over allegation that they are inciting the public to storm Parliament.
The duo are Muhammad Nsereko and Allan Ssewanyana. Barnabas Tinkasimire and Theodore Ssekikubo did not appear at Kibuli police.
When he stepped at Kibuli Police, Nsereko said they are ready to interact with the Police officers.
“But we expect it to be brief because we have other businesses at Parliament at 2pm,” he added.
Last week, some NRM MPs and ministers convened and agreed to support the move to lift the age limit. If the legislators win the battle in Parliament, it means President Museveni will contest in 2021.
Some legislators vowed to use any means to block any move by Parliament to amend Article 205(b) of the Constitution to lift the Presidential age limit.
While appearing before Police, Ssewanyana said he has no case to answer and is free to speak his mind.
“As an elected leader that’s what I’am supposed to do,” he said.
Sources at Parliament told PML Daily that this matter will have to be concluded before this year’s Independence celebrations.
Police said it gathered information showing how the five MPs are using the media to organise the public to storm Parliament at the time of discussing the age limit.
Meanwhile, the summoned legislators suspect that their colleagues on the other side, could be trying to trick them and change the date for tabling the Bill.
Addressing press before the interrogation at Kibuli, Aruu County MP Odonga Otto who among other MPs escorted the duo, claimed to have caught wind of plans by the NRM MPs to table the Amendment Bill this afternoon.
“We did not want to be taken unawares. We could not keep all our eggs in one basket,” Odonga said, in reference to Ssekikubo and Tinkasimire’s failure to appear before police.
The bill is scheduled for Thursday, according to the laid out plan.
Yesterday, the Inter -Religious Council of Uganda called for a referendum on the age limit to allow the citizens to participate.
The religious leaders argue that the age limit debate goes beyond partisan politics and citizens with divergent views must be listened to before any amendments are considered.