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OULANYAH: I never ran away from age limit debate

Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah chairs plenary. File Photo

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah has dismissed recent statements that he feared handling the age limit debate and opted for foreign travel to escape responsibility.

In a brief interview with journalists at Parliament, Deputy Speaker Oulanyah described statements made by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga as lies.

He says that it is not true that he ran away from the age limit debate since he has never run away from anything.

Oulanyah’s rival in the race for Parliament, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga this week told a section of MPs backing her candidature that Oulanyah was scared of handling Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2017 sessions and opted for the safety of going to a foreign country, leaving her to handle the difficult session.

This was during the launch of her bid for a third term as Speaker of Parliament at Munyonyo. At this event, Kadaga unveiled her team which she said is composed of more than 300 MPs, but only 150 had been invited to meet the COVID-19 standard operating procedures-SOPs.

The controversial ‘Age Limit Bill,’ saw the amendment of Article 102 (b) and lifting of the cap on the presidential age from the constitution. Article 102(b) of the Constitution initially set 35 years as the lower limit and 75 years as the upper age beyond which one cannot stand for president.

The amendment gave President Yoweri Museveni who was then 73 years, a chance to seek another term in the January 2021 election.

Now when asked about the speakership campaign that has already heated up before the process officially starts, Oulanyah said he did not know what was going on at the moment.

He however said that he had a strong belief in the ruling National Resistance Movement –NRM party process and that it will solve the matter in a more amicable way.

In the previous Parliaments, the NRM Central Executive Committee (CEC) endorsed candidates for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker position and it is usually these candidates that are approved by legislators. The same process is expected to happen soon.

“When they ask us to express interest in whatever office we intend to vie for…that is when I will go and express my interest,” said Oulanyah. “For now there is no activity. For now, I don’t even know what is going on. The previous election process I was set to win, this one, when it comes I will win big.”

He also questioned reports that 300 MPs have already expressed support for Kadaga.

‘So I hear, but you see…the vote is the vote, we will wait for the vote. Three hundred! And you are still campaigning? If you have three hundred you don’t campaign,” he said.

In regard to caucus groups in parliament that have started showing support for different candidates, Oulanyah said that this is not a new strategy and that all he is waiting for is his party’s process before he can present himself and speak about his campaign strategy.

Asked whether he is concerned about the campaign process that is heavily marred with allegations of enticement, the Deputy Speaker said that he has not been following and that it is not a matter of great concern to him now.

Oulanyah made the statement after receiving his Covid-19 vaccine jab at the Parliament building.

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