In the NRM caucus that was convened last Friday, Nankabirwa said her office had prepared a message which the NRM MPs would use to promote the Bill
The Government Chief Whip, Ruth Nankabirwa, has revealed the message they have prepared for the NRM MPs to use in promoting the constitutional amendment Bill 2017 which seeks to remove the upper and lower age limits for presidential candidates.
In the NRM caucus that was convened last Friday, Nankabirwa said her office has prepared a message which the NRM MPs will use to promote the Bill.
In an interview, Nankabirwa noted that the message contains explanations of the legal issues surrounding the amendment justifying why a referendum over the matter would not be necessary.
“Some people have been misleading the public that the matter requires a referendum. This is a matter that requires MPs to decide on behalf of the people,” she elaborated.
The other component of the promotional message is the research findings that there is no other country in the world that has an upper age limit.
The promotional message is also premised on the Supreme Court ruling which required the Government to enact necessary constitutional amendments and electoral reforms within two years.
“You know, that Bill has other proposals, but article 102b has overshadowed other areas which we need to amend. For instance, 10 days are not enough for someone to gather evidence to petition a presidential election.
The electoral commission is given only 20 days to organise a fresh election after court has nullified the election. Those days are very inadequate. Even Kenya which has 60 days, the days do not seem to be adequate enough,” she argued.
The other explanation to give citizens in the consultations is to refer them to article 1 of the Constitution which states that power belongs to the people.
“So, in that regard, we shall tell people that everyone should have a chance to contest for any office regardless of age and then the voters will make their choice of who they want to be their leader,” she explained.
Some NRM MPs reject indoor consultations
In the NRM caucus meeting of last Friday, MPs were advised to conduct indoor consultative meetings and to have a harmonised message.
But some legislators did not accept the idea of consulting their constituencies selectively.
Pader woman MP Lowila Oketayot said, “We did not take a vote on the proposal of consulting voters from indoor meetings. That was just a proposal. For me I cannot use it in my constituency because it does not make sense. We have to consult all our voters in the constituency. That is what it means to be a people’s Parliament,” Oketayot argued.
Ngora County MP David Bara also said he did not buy the idea of holding indoor meetings because it is discriminatory to his voters.
“This is not a matter for NRM. It is a matter for all Ugandans from across the political divide. For me elders in my constituency had instructed me not to take a position of the age limit debate until I have consulted the constituency. I will, therefore, defend the position of my constituency,” Abara argued.
Meanwhile Nankabirwa dismissed reports that they have given NRM MPs money to compromise their constituencies to support the Bill.
“We have not given out any money. The only money we expect to be given is from Parliament and it has not been released yet,” she explained.
However, the Leader of Opposition, Winnie Kiiza, who is part of the parliamentary commission, vowed to oppose the decision to give special funds to MPs to consult, saying that MPs are facilitated to do so on daily basis.