Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Judges of the Supreme Court have put the government team to task to justify the need to lift the cap on the presidential age, 23 years after the promulgation of the constitution.
The question was specifically raised by Justice Jotham Tumwesigye as a team led by the Attorney General put up a spirited fight against an appeal seeking to restore the presidential Age limit clauses in the Constitution. The clauses, which initially limited presidential contenders to persons aged between 35 and 75, were lifted by parliament through a vote held in 2017, and upheld by a majority judgment by the constitutional court last year.
But the decisions by parliament and the constitutional court were further challenged by City Lawyer Male Mabirizi, six Opposition Legislators and Uganda Law Society on grounds that the constitutional court erred when it failed to nullify the amendments, despite a number of irregularities raised by the panel of Judges.
The petitioners questioned the facilitation of 29 million Shillings which was given to each legislator during the process. They further argued that the amendments damaged the basic structures enshrined in the constitution, which include, among others, the sovereignty of the people, duties of citizens to participate and defend the constitution from being abrogated, principles of unity and social justice.
However, Attorney General William Byaruhanga told the court that Ugandan citizens were dully consulted on the amendments, some of which are now under contention. Byaruhanga said that public views were represented by Members of Parliament, who were dully facilitated to consult and later reported that their constituents had endorsed the proposals.
Similarly, Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana asked the Supreme Court to maintain the law arguing that the facilitation to legislators did not impose any charges on the consolidated fund.
The Solicitor General Francis Atoke corroborated the defense saying that the Constitutional court had already expunged clauses that were deemed unconstitutional adding that the amendments were made within the powers and mandate of Parliament.
Hearing of the case has been adjourned until further notice. The appeal is being heard by a panel comprising of the Deputy Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Justices Jotham Tumwesigye, Paul Mugamba, Opio Aweri, David Mwangutsya, Stella Arach Amoko and Lillian Tibatemwa.