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Age limit: Lawyers vote to snub House committee

By Betty Amamukirori

Added 14th November 2017 05:10 PM

The legal committee had invited ULS to appear before it on Friday

Age limit: Lawyers vote to snub House committee

ULS president Francis Gimara.

The legal committee had invited ULS to appear before it on Friday

 

Lawyers under their umbrella association, Uganda Law Society (ULS) have voted not to appear before the parliamentary committee on legal affairs which is handling the discourse on the proposed amendment of Article 102 (b) of the Constitution.

The lawyers unanimously agreed that they cannot be part of the amendment which seeks to lift the age cap on presidency because it is an illegality and a threat to fundamental constitutionalism and rule of law.

The resolution was made during the extra general meeting of the advocates held at the ULS secretariat at Kololo. Most of the lawyers who are currently legislators shunned the meeting without explanation.

The legal committee had invited ULS to appear before it on Friday to give the advocates view on the proposed amendments to the Constitution.

The motion to shun the parliamentary committee was moved by Eron Kiza, a lawyer from Mwebesa and Niwagaba Co. Advocates and seconded by Diana Ahumuza.

While moving the motion, Kiza asked fellow advocates to shun the constitutional amendment Bill No.2 of 2017 because it attempts to weaken the constitution and its check on age limit in order to keep President Yoweri Museveni in power.

He said that the article was specifically put in the constitution to guard the country against repeating its turbulent history which was characterized by tyranny and political instability.

"To remedy this history of oppression, and establish a new order grounded on the tenets of unity, peace, equality, democracy, freedom, social justice and progress was the prime purpose of the 1995 constitution," he said.

Alex Luganda, said that in case the age limit cap is lifted, it will open a can of worms with other public servants demanding for the removal of the retirement age.

The lawyers demanded their president not to appear before Parliament and instead move to court and have the bill set aside.

Two lawyers, Elison Karuhanga and Jet Tumwebaze, who were opposed to the motion failed to win support from fellow lawyers, who all chose to vote against appearing before Parliament. The voting was presided over by the ULS president Francis Gimara.

Gimara explained to journalists that they had to vote because there were divergent opinions on the matter.

"We shall not appear before the committee. Our mandate comes from the members, if they give a position on a matter, then we take it," he said.

He said that though he would have wanted to go to Parliament, he cannot because he will be acting illegally since the majority has voted against it.

"I will write to the committee that the general meeting resolved not to appear before them," he said.

The lawyers also voted to file public interest cases as ULS and cited the invasion of Parliament by security people alleged to be from the Special Forces Command (SFC), recently, as one of the issues they need to look in to.

Professor Fredrick Ssempebwa who also attended the lawyers meeting,  noted that a constitution is a living phenomenon which grows through adherence to it and through interpretation and can also be impeded by failure to adhere to it or by negative amendments that do not advance the pillars upon which it was made.

Lawyer Peter Mulira said that the amendment cannot be done since chapter 18 of the Constitution which spells out the procedure of amending the instrument, is in conflict with article 5 which spells out the powers of Parliament.

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