Supreme Court Judges Quashes Age Limit Appeal paves way for Museveni to rule beyond 2021

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Judges of the spreme court of Uganda led by Chief Justice Bart Katureebe quashed the consolidated Age Limit Appeal in Supreme Court ruling that saw three judges rule in favour of the Appeal.

Uganda’s top court paved the way Thursday for the country’s 74-year-old President Yoweri Museveni to seek a sixth term in office, upholding a ruling to scrap presidential age limits.
The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by Museveni’s opponents, who had appealed against a constitutional court ruling that removed an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders.

“This appeal therefore fails,” Chief Justice Bart Katureebe declared in handing down the court’s majority 4-3 verdict.
The decision allows Museveni — who has ruled Uganda since seizing power at the head of a rebel army in 1986 — to seek re-election in polls due in 2021.
Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana declared the verdict “a big win for Uganda”.

“On behalf of myself and all the people of Uganda, I am highly indebted. This was the most reasoned judgment, well balanced. Their lordships expressed their views and we respect all the views and at the end of the day, we are extremely happy that justice has been done. I want to congratulate the people of Uganda and I want to congratulate the members of the NRM,” he said.
“We are elated. This is a sign of how democracy has taken root in our country,” he added.
But a lawyer for the petitioners, Erias Lukwago, said “it is democracy that suffers”.

“It is a disappointment, but in Africa it is a miracle to win (against) a sitting government,” he said.
Observers had expected a ruling in Museveni’s favour, but the narrow margin came as a surprise.
“The ruling was so close. Museveni will take a lesson from it,” said Kassim Male Mabirizi, an activist from the Uganda Law Society and one of the main petitioners.
A bill removing presidential age limits was signed into law in December 2017 after a chaotic passage through parliament that saw MPs engaging in fisticuffs.

Rule for life
That decision sparked protests and an outcry from the opposition, which accused the president of seeking to rule for life.
The constitutional court upheld the amendment in a ruling in July last year, but it was challenged by the opposition in Uganda’s highest court.

A seven-judge Supreme Court bench began hearing the appeal in January, with opposition lawyers arguing the bill was unconstitutional.
Some of the judges agreed.
“The power to amend is not the same as the power to rewrite the constitution,” said Justice Lillian Tibatemwa, one of the three judges who ruled for the opposition.
Museveni once said leaders who “overstayed” were the root of Africa’s problems.
But in 2005, he scrapped a two-term presidential limit which has allowed him to keep running for office.
While contesting a fifth term in 2016, he said it was not the right time for him to leave as he still had work to do.
In February, the ruling party endorsed Museveni as its candidate for 2021 and beyond.

Katureebe, who said he was sick, delivered the final verdict through
Mwangusya making it four justices against the appeal.

The court delivered judgment on eight key issues among were Whether the learned Justices of the Constitutional Court misdirected themselves on the application of the basic structure doctrine.

Whether majority of the learned justices of the Constitutional Court erred in law and in fact in holding that the entire process of conceptualizing,debating and enactment of Constitution (Amendment) Act 2018 didnt in any respect contravene nor was it inconsistent with the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda and The Rules of Procedure of Parliament Whether the learned Justices of the Constitutional Court erred in law and fact when they held that the violence/scuffle inside and outside Parliament during the enactment of the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2018 did not in any respect contravene the previous said laws.

Whether the learned Justices of the Constitutional Court erred in law when they applied the substantiality test in determining the petition.

Whether the learned Justices of the Constitutional Court directed themselves when they held that the Constitution (Amendment) Act 2018 on the removal of the age limit for the President and Local Council Five offices was not inconsistent with the provisions of the 1995 Constitution.

Whether the Constitutional Court erred in law and fact in holding that the president elected in 2016 is not liable to vacate office on attaining the age of 75 years.

The court also expected to address the available remedies to the parties.

Growing Anger
He is the only president most Ugandans have known in a country where the median age is less than 16.
But young Ugandans have recently been energised by pop star-turned-MP Bobi Wine, one of the politicians who spearheaded protests against the age-limit amendment and has rapidly become a thorn in the government’s side.
Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, told CNN in an interview in February that he was “seriously considering” running for president in 2021.

Kyagulanyi was charged with treason last August, along with more than 30 opposition politicians, over the alleged stoning of Museveni’s convoy after a campaign rally.
During the campaign, Kyagulanyi’s driver was shot dead when soldiers from the elite presidential guard raided the hotel in which he was staying.
The singer has accused the security forces of torturing and beating him while in custody and later received medical treatment in the US for the injuries he said he received. The authorities have denied the allegations.

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