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TERM LIMITS: Matembe goes to Constitutional Court

Dr. Miria Matembe

Matembe wants the Constitutional Court to pronounce itself on presidential term limits

Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | Former Ethics and Integrity Minister Dr. Miria Matembe has taken Members of the 10th Parliament to the Constitutional Court, accusing them of unlawfully removing presidential term limits during the constitutional amendment of 2005.

Matembe together with other Human Rights activists, the Centre for Constitutional governance and Legal Brains Trust, say it was wrong for the parliament to  amend the law on  term limits without first consulting the public through a referendum. The petition is supported by renowned law don Professor Fredrick Ssempebwa.

In his affidavit, Ssempebwa who chaired the 2001 Constitutional Review Commission that was charged with studying and recommend changes to the 1995 Constitution, 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.

Matembe wants court to declare that the act of parliament to amend the law on term limits to give way for people to contest for presidency for more than two terms is unconstitutional.

The petition has been filed against the Attorney General of Government. Court is yet to summon the Attorney General who has been named as the respondent to file his defence on behalf of parliament.

Matembe’s petition comes at time when  a motion is about to be tabled in parliament to debate the amendment of Article 105 (2)(b) to also remove  the presidential age limit. Matembe argues that the change should only be made after going for a referendum, citing Article 1(4) of the Constitution.

How two term limit was lifted

Matembe’s petition to the court  mentions what it says were fraudulent acts that happened in parliament during the 2005 Constitutional Amendments. MPS were allegedly intimidated and bribed. She argues that the MPS also breached parliamentary rules of secret ballot to ensure that the bribed MPs vote for the removal of term limits.

If the two five-year term limit clause had not been deleted from the Constitution in 2005, President Museveni would have now been in his 12th year of retirement in his Rwakitura home, having handed over power peacefully to a successor in May 2006.

Matembe was a woman Member of Parliament representing Mbarara district in the 7thparliament which scrapped off term limits. One of the constituent assembly delegates that made the 1995 constitution and a long serving minister, she broke ranks with the establishment and subsequently dropped from cabinet.

Age limits

Last week, the NRM MPS resolved that Igara West MP Raphael Magezi moves a motion to seek leave of Parliament to introduce an omnibus Private Member’s Bill to amend Articles 102 (b), 108(3a) and 108(4) in a move seen as a significant step towards securing a free run for President Yoweri Museveni to seek re-election in 2021.

President Museveni, who is now 73, is barred by the current constitution from vying again as he will have surpassed the 75-year mark by the next election


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