The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) has asked the speaker of parliament, Rebecca Kadaga to refer the debate on the proposed scrapping of the presidential age limit to the people of Uganda.
The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee is currently conducting public hearings on the Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017 that was tabled as a private member’s bill by the Igara West Member of Parliament, Raphael Magyezi. The bill seeks among other things to scrap article 102 (b), which caps the president’s age at 75 years..
Now, IRCU has weighed in on the ongoing debate on the bill.
“Rt. Hon. Speaker, it is our esteemed view that the issue of age limit is neither a partisan issue nor a monopoly of pro-NRM and opposition politicians. The issue is national in character and the debate should be cascaded to the people of Uganda, as they are constitutionally mandated to determine the destiny of our nation (Article 1 of the Constitution (1995),” reads the IRCU petition to the speaker.
IRCU notes that for one capture the spirit within, which the Uganda Constitution was made, it is appropriate to read its PREAMBLE. “It is categorically stated that Uganda’s Constitution was influenced by the nation’s history, characterized by political and constitutional instability.”
Adding that, “it recognizes the struggles against the forces of tyranny, oppression and exploitation; and commits to building a better future by establishing a socio-economic and political order through a popular and durable national Constitution based on the principles of unity, peace, equality, democracy, freedom, social justice and progress”.
They note that it is upon the turbulent history of the country that the framers of the constitution inserted the age and term limits in the constitution to prevent the country from plunging into chaos.
“The first major safeguard on term limits was removed without being tested. Now the second safeguard is being threatened. As religious leaders, we strongly believe that as a nation, we can build posterity and attain prosperity, if we build a nation on a culture of respecting the Constitution,” reads the petition.
IRCU also contends that great leaders are distinguished from transactional leaders by the way they respect fundamental rules that govern society. “Members of Parliament occupy an important space in our Nation’s governance that they should not desecrate the sanctity of our Constitution”.
They recommend that the issue of ‘age limit’ together with ‘term limits’ should be added to the agenda of the proposed National Dialogue. They also want both provisions to be entrenched so that their removal requires a referendum because of their polarizing nature.
They also demand that the MPs should be allowed to consult their constituents on the matter freely without any harassment from security. They also recommend that the debate on age limit should be based on principles and not positions, dwelling on individuals instead of emphasizing the common good and posterity. They also recommend the establishment of a Constitutional Review Commission to address all issues of electoral reforms that were pronounced by the Supreme Court in its ruling on the 2016 election petition.
IRCU brings together the heads of different religious dominations. They include His Eminence Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje, Grand Mufti of Uganda, His Grace the Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop, Church of the Province of Uganda, His Eminence Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga.
Also it includes Archbishop, Uganda Orthodox Church, Pr. Dr Daniel Matte, President, Seventh-day Adventist Uganda Union, Co-Chair, His Grace Dr.. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, Archbishop, Kampala Archdiocese, Apostle Dr. Joseph Serwadda, President, Born Again Faith in Uganda and Bishop Joshua Lwere, General Overseer, National Alliance of Pentecostal and Evangelical Churches in Uganda.