Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Debate on the Constitution Amendment Bill (No2) of 2017 kicked off Monday evening and continues this morning after a dramatic day in which several MPs were thrown out of the house and Parliament’s Rule 201b was suspended.
After the report of the committee on legal and parliamentary affairs was presented, Members of Parliament (MPs) argued if debate on the report on the constitution amendments could start immediately.
Among the severeal proposed amendments, is lifting Article 102(b) of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda – to remove the age limits (35 – 75) for presidential candidates. That is why the bill has been dubbed the “Age Limit” bill.
After heated arguments on Monday, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga put question to the motion that Rule 201b be suspended and members voted for the suspension so that debate could start. NRM MPs said debate did not need to wait three days after reports are presented, as the committee had shared their findings five days earlier on their iPads. (read full report below)
Parliament’s rule of procedure 201b states that: “Debate on a report of a Committee on a bill, shall take place at least three days after it has been laid on the Table by the Chairperson or the Deputy Chairperson or a Member nominated by the Committee or by the Speaker.”
Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutuna moved a motion that Rule 201b which states that the report be debated at least three days after it is presented be suspended so that the debate can ensue immediately. He argued that it was uploaded 5 days earlier.
“Rule 201b is to the effect that members are given time to debate from an informed point of view. As it appears, all members are ready to debate. I therefore move that a question be put,” added Chris Baryomunsi.
Opposition MPs Nandala Mafabi and Abdu Katuntu hit back to no avail.
“The rule does not talk about iPads. The house is not burning and Uganda is not ending. Unless there is something motivating you, since you are not the beneficiary,” said Mafabi.
Katuntu also tried to urge for procedure to be followed. “I request that you listen to us especially those who purport to have gone to the bush to fight for democracy,” he said.
“It is true that rule 201b can be suspended, but there must be justifiable reasons. Justice must not only be done, but also seen to be done,” Katuntu argued. “We know at the end of the day, those with numbers will win. But must we act like a mob?”
Those with the numbers won, and debate that will end with a vote, started and continues Tuesday at 10am.