Religious leaders has asked the Speaker of Parliament Hon. Rebecca Kadaga to explain why the proposed age limit amendment bill received immediate attention in Parliament, yet bills prior to this were never handled in the same way.
The group mentions as an example the land amendment bill, noting that when Parliament rejected it, the President, Kaguta Museveni embarked on a nationwide consultation and sensitization program over radio on this matter.
“We came to ask the Speaker not to quickly pass this proposed bill before giving people the opportunity to voice their concerns,” the delegation, that included members from both the Inter-religious council of Uganda (IRCU) and National Elders Forum told Journalists after a private meeting the Speaker.
“Why is this amendment moving so fast yet the land amendment bill was not handled like this?” Sheikh Mubajje, the IRCU chairperson told one state aided news daily.
The proposal to change article 102 (b) of the constitution so as to lift the presidential age limit currently capped at 75 years has stirred widespread opposition from rights activists, the political opposition, religious leaders and from some members of the ruling NRM party.
IRCU reportedly still insisted during the meeting that government should hold a referendum rather than leave this matter to legislatures to decide.
The delegation included retired principal judge, justice James Ogoola, executive director of Uganda Joint Christian Council Fr Dr Silvester Arinaitwe, IRCU secretary general Joshua Litakule, former Archbishop of the Seventh Day Adventist Church, Dr John Kakembo, Dr Maggie Kigozi, Henry Kyemba, Daisy Baruku and Stephen Akabwayi.
Kadaga, according to sources, assured the Clerics that all the rules of procedure and laws will be followed; “Once the bill is tabled, it will be sent to the committee and the MPS will go and consult the people,” she is quoted to have said.
Hon Raphael Magyezi of Igara West tabled this Constitution Amendment Bill for first reading early this week and according to Parliament press, the Bill has been sent to the committee on legal and Parliamentary affairs.
The rules of procedure require the committee to consider the bill within 45 days. Notably, the Opposition MPs were absent in the house following the suspension of some and the ongoing boycott by others.