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Thursday,December 03,2020 17:08 PM

EACJ completes Mabirizi age limit hearing

By Andante Okanya

Added 25th July 2020 03:02 PM

On December 20, 2017, Parliament amended the Constitution, consequently lifted the presidential age limit

EACJ completes Mabirizi age limit hearing

On December 20, 2017, Parliament amended the Constitution, consequently lifted the presidential age limit

East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has completed the hearing of the presidential age limit petition filed by lawyer Male Mabirizi.

On July 14, five judges at the Arusha-based court in Tanzania, through video-link, heard the final submissions from Mabirizi and Uganda Attorney General (AG) William Byaruhanga.

EACJ Principal Judge Monica Mugenyi, explained that a decision time would be communicated after the Judges satisfactorily are ready.

"We will definitely look at every issue carefully and deliver our judgment on notice," explained Mugenyi.

This implies that the parties will be informed to adequately prepare to receive the ruling, prior to the delivery date.

Grievance

Mabirizi asserts that the entire tabling, debating, and passing of the bill, was procedurally defective. The contentious Article 102(b) prescribes on term limits.

Last year on May 3, Mabirizi petitioned EACJ to invalidate Constitutional Amendment Act 2018, which endorsed presidential age limit removal in the Constitution.

The petition was prompted by the Supreme Court pronouncement in which majority justices (4:3) dismissed Mabirizi's appeal, on the premise that minor omissions had no meaningful effect on the process of the entire enactment of the Act.

The then Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Stella Arach Amoko, Rubby Opio Aweri, and Jotham Tumwesigye upheld the earlier Constitutional Court verdict. The dissenters were Eldad Mwangusya, Lilian Tibatemwa- Ekirikubinza, and Paul Mugamba.

Mabirizi contends that the actions of Parliament, Executive and the Judiciary, contravene provisions of the Treaty for Establishment of the East African Community (EAC).

AG maintains govt stance

Byaruhanga maintained his earlier stance as Government's chief legal representative and adviser, describing Mabirizi's push as a camouflage.

The AG emphasised that the case be dismissed with costs, on grounds that it had become res-judicata (decision already reached by competent court and matter closed).

Byaruhanga explained that the apex court (Supreme Court) had made its decision and that it was the final appellate court in the country's Constitutional interpretation.

He also noted that Parliament adhered to the EAC Treaty and its democratic governance provisions when endorsing the Constitution Amendment Act Number 1 of 2018.

Genesis

On December 20, 2017, Parliament amended the Constitution, consequently lifted the presidential age limit and also the term of parliament to seven years which prompted Mabirizi and four others to petition the Constitutional Court.

On July 26, 2018, the Constitutional Court in a majority decision of 4:1 allowed the removal of the presidential age limit.

However, the court unanimously declared the extension of the term of members of parliament and local government as unconstitutional.

Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo, Justices Remmy Kasule, Elizabeth Musoke, and Cheborion Barishaki allowed the removal of the Presidential age limit. Kenneth Kakuru dissented.

Subsequently, Mabirizi and other petitioners went to the Supreme Court, seeking to quash the amendment.

But last year on April 18, the apex court agreed with the Constitutional Court pronouncement.

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