President Yoweri Museveni
The presence of age limits for any elective office goes against Article 1 of the 1995 Constitution, the bedrock of that supreme law, which says “Power belongs to the people”, President Yoweri Museveni has said.
Since Ugandans are the custodians of the Constitution and their country, the President said, they should be given the ultimate duty of determining how and who should lead them through regular free and fair elections instead of being merely “legalistic”.
“If someone votes, why can’t he be voted for?” President Museveni told Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee which had called on him Tuesday at State House, Entebbe, to seek his views on the proposed amendment of Article 102(b) of the Constitution.
The committee is scrutinizing the private members Bill, presented to Parliament by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi, which seeks to scrap the 35 and 75-year lower and upper age limits for candidates seeking the presidency.
Committee chairman, Oboth Oboth (West Budama South), who led the team of legislators to State House.
At the Tuesday interaction, the MPs asked President Museveni a host of questions surrounding the age limit debate and he comprehensively responded to each of them in a session lasting about two hours.
Fitness, health, term limits
On media reports attributed to him about the performance of leaders above the age of 75, President Museveni said politics is about ideology and service and not sport where one needed to compete physically.
“Politics is not Olympics or rugby where you need to compete physically. The presidency is a guiding role,” he said.
On whether the country should remove age limit and reinstate term limits, the President said at this stage of development, limits were not the most important issue for Uganda because the country has more pressing concerns.
“It took America more than a century and half while developing their economy and political class to put presidential term limits in their constitution. When they finally did so in 1947, everything they wanted had happened. They had developed, the colonies had integrated,” he said. “But here; what has happened? In Africa you behave like we are running countries and yet we are creating countries.”
On the proposal to increase the years of term of office from five to seven years the President said the leaders in Africa have much more to do and need adequate time to develop the continent and saw no harm in having longer terms.
“For these countries with all these problems, two terms of five years is just a joke. Those who talk about this are just looking at improving their CVs. We might not discuss it now but there is merit at looking at the seven years. It would give some time to these young countries to develop. France has seven-year terms, I do not see what they have lost,” said the President.
Details of this story in Thursday New Vision.