MUSEVENI 7-YEAR-TERM: Details of how his team plans to get it
Kampala, Uganda | HAGGAI MATSIKO | Just days after the Constitutional Court sitting in Mbale completed hearing of a case challenging amendments passed last year to remove the 75-year constitutional age limit to allow President Yoweri Museveni to contest again for presidency at the next polls, it appears the ruling party is getting set for another battle in parliament. This time, President Yoweri Museveni wants the presidential term extended from five years to seven.
Museveni appears to be in a lurch after last year’s amendments which removed the presidential term limits to allow him to run even after exceeding 75 years also extended the term of legislators and local government leaders to seven years. The amendments, however, did not extent the presidential term from the current five to seven years.
That means that if the amendment, which has been challenged in court stands, elections of local government leaders and MPs would have to take place in 2023. But the presidential election would be in 2021.
It appears Museveni wants his term also extended to seven years such that both parliamentary and presidential elections are held at the same time as has been the case.
Parliament’s legal committee recommended that the presidential term of office is also extended from five to seven years, following a December 5 meeting with Museveni. President Museveni told them and his ruling party that a 5-year term is too short.
“After an election,” a source who attended the meeting quoted Museveni to have said, “you spend about one year settling in and before you know it; another electioneering period sets in.”
Some ruling party officials have been advising Museveni to change the presidential term through a national referendum organised by the Electoral Commission based on a parliamentary resolution.
But expert consensus now appears to be that changing the terms requires a fresh law tabled and passed by parliament.
New law needed?
City lawyer Ellison Karuhanga, who has represented the ruling party in, among others, the 2016 presidential election petition, told The Independent that extending the presidential term limit from five to seven years requires a new law.
“Government has to introduce a new bill,” Karuhanga said.
“When you are dealing with people who want to cling onto power, “such plans do not surprise you, you just have to wait for what they come up with and you deal with it,” said Semujju Nganda, the Opposition Chief Whip.
Nganda said a resolution by parliament is not sufficient to extend Museveni’s term from five to seven years and that is why Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana proposed a referendum law to cabinet.
Rukutana, in February tabled before cabinet a proposal for a new law required for the referendum to take place. The ruling party caucus had tasked Rukutana him to lead a team of legislators to study the planned referendum.