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How MPs plan to remove age limit at Kyankwanzi

The NRM MPs retreat at the National Leadership Institute Kyankwanzi next month is expected to discuss and endorse a proposal to remove the 75-year-age limit that stands in the way of President Museveni and re-election in 2021.

Well-placed sources say a plan to remove the age obstacle from the Constitution has been in the works since the collapse of Nakifuma MP Robert Kafeero Ssekitooleko’s attempt to table a private member’s bill in September last year.

Officially, the bill aimed to raise the retirement age of judges and give electoral commissioners an extended tenure, but unofficially it was believed to be a ruse for the introduction of an amendment to abolish Article 102(b) that makes it unconstitutional for President Museveni to seek re-election in 2021 given that he will have turned 75 years old.

Yoweri Museveni addressing NRM MPs last year at Kyankwanzi

The Nakifuma MP’s move collapsed on September 13, 2016 after Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga directed that the motion be shelved until government tables an omnibus bill with all constitutional amendments therein.

Ssekitooleko is now part of a group of MPs reported to be working with a retired army officer serving in cabinet on a motion expected to be tabled during the 10-day NRM caucus retreat at NALI, Kyankwanzi.

The MPs involved are said to include John Bosco Lubyaayi (Mawokota South), Simeo Nsubuga (Kassanda North), former FDC treasurer Anita Among (Bukedea Woman), Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers), Peter Ogwang (Usuk) and Jacob Oboth-Oboth (West Budama South).

It is understood that this working committee has met several times at Kati Kati restaurant, Serena Kampala hotel and at the said minister’s office. During some of these meetings, selected NRM MPs and some NRM-leaning independents were invited and mobilised to support the move.

According to our source, the architects plan to handle the project the way minister of state for Investment Evelyn Anite approached the sole candidacy resolution in February 2014 to shield President Museveni from internal electoral competition.

Asked to confirm his role in the effort, Nsubuga said he was not party to such a move.

“Let’s wait for Kyankwanzi but I know nothing… I am just a committed cadre of the party ready for any assignment from the party leadership, but as far as that [proposed motion] is concerned, I don’t know anything,” Nsubuga said.

Meanwhile, another group of MPs has launched an open campaign against the removal of the presidential age-limit clause from the Constitution. Among them is Kisoro municipality MP Sam Byibesho, who told The Observer on Thursday that any attempts to change the Constitution must involve all Ugandans.

“We suspect that they are bringing it [for discussion] at Kyankwanzi but we are saying, this is a matter that must be discussed freely and openly,” Byibesho said.

“I believe that there are some articles in the Constitution which must be changed, and they may use that chance to change even this one on the age limit. It must go to a referendum [instead of using the caucus], all stakeholders must be involved,” Byibesho added.

NRM MPs at Kyankwanzi

Interviewed on Wednesday, government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa said no MP has approached her about a motion to amend the age-limit clause.

“I am in charge of the retreat’s programme and no one has approached me over the things you are talking about,” she said.
“I can tell you it is a fixed 10-day programme with presentations from people we have invited from outside Uganda. Will it [age-limit removal] be discussed over lunch or at the campfire?” Nankabirwa wondered.

The chief whip declined to discuss details of the retreat’s programme but said one of the facilitators is from Ethiopia.

The retreat, which had originally been scheduled for March 12 to 18, was called off after Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga declined to send MPs on recess until the budget process has been completed.

Sadab Kitatta Kaaya