The opposition and civil society championed campaign to stop the amendment of Article 102 (b) of Uganda’s constitution is facing yet another huddle – a legal one this time.
The Article, which restricts Ugandans outside the (35 -75) age bracket from running for President, reports suggest, is under threat form elements in the ruling NRM Party.
Many Ugandans according to research so far and media reports, want to protect the clause from being amended.
A recent poll by this website found that 70% of its readers want the clause maintained.
But supporters of the amendment, mostly supporters of President Yoweri Museveni, have been relentless, pushing at least for a public debate to be allowed on the subject, which opponents also reject.
These now have gone a step further, challenging Article 102 (b) before the Constitutional Court.
Opio Phillip Roland, a court advocate who hails from Soroti district, took to the Constitutional Court, seeking among others a declaration that the clause is inconsistent with other provisions in the constitution.
Opio, through his lawyers Opio, Otee & Co. Advocates sued the Attorney General, who is the government’s lawyer.
He claims that Article 102 (b) is inconsistent with both Articles 21 and 38 of the national constitution.
Article 21(2) of the 1995 Constitution prohibits discrimination of all persons.
It states partly that, “All persons are equal before and under the law in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life and in every other respect and shall enjoy equal protection of the law.”
Article 38 on the other hand guarantees every Ugandan citizen the civic right to participate in the affairs of government in any capacity.
Opio, who calls himself “an ardent believer in the Rule of Law, Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms, and Constitutionalism” says the restrictions in Article 102 contradict the above two articles.
He also challenges, S.111 (3)(c) and S.111 (4)(c) of the Local Governments Act [Cap 243] which bars adults of the ages of 18 years to 29 years and adults of over 75 years from qualification for election as Local Council chairperson(s).
He also mentions S.4 (1) (b) of the Presidential Elections Act which has the same provisions as Article 102(b) of the Constitution.
Opiyo wants the Constitutional Court to declare that Article 102 (b) together with the cited Sections of the Local Government and Presidential Elections Acts, are inconsistent with or in contravention of Article 21 and Article 28 of the Constitution.
The Constitution Court is headed by the Deputy Chief Justice Stephen Kavuma, who on multiple occasions has been accused by the opposition and some of his colleagues recently, of making judgements mostly in favour of the ruling NRM government and President Yoweri Museveni.
It should be remembered that government through the office of the Attorney General has vehemently denied knowledge of any plans to amend the national constitution.
President Yoweri Museveni also termed people pushing this debate as time wasters.