Former Presidential Candidate and head of the People’s Development Party (PDP) Dr Abed Bwanika is calling for a referendum for Ugandans to determine whether or not the country’s constitution should be amended to remove limitations on the age qualifications of the President.
The call will likely embolden the already mounting debate on Article 102 of the National Constitution which caps the presidential age limit at 75 years.
Rumours have suggested lately that the ruling NRM party are internally working on a plan to amend the constitution to get rid of the limiting clause.
Dr Bwanika, through his own campaign dubbed Referenda 2017, has come up with a proposal for Ugandans to hold a referendum on this matter.
He, as a Ugandan citizen is permitted by the constitution’s Article 255 to call for a national referendum on any issue of national importance.
As such, he has written to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama presenting his request as chairman of the Referenda 2017.
In the letter copied to the Prime Minister, Parliament, party leaders and the Attorney General, Mr Bwanika also asks for a meeting with the EC officials “to agree on the way forward.”
The referendum that Bwanika and his campaign want should also address the issue of restoration of the Presidential Term Limits, which were removed from the constitution through a parliamentary vote in 2005.
Our efforts to reach the three-time presidential candidate to expound on his request were fruitless as his phones were switched off.
Uganda last had a referendum in July 2005, when nationals voted to return multiparty politics.
Political parties had been banned from competing in elections for nearly 20 years in order to curb sectarian tensions
The referendum was unpopular as only 47% voters turned up. Unofficial reports claimed the percentage was less than 30%. Nonetheless, over 90% voted for the return of multi-partism.
Government spent over USD 12million (then about Shs. 2.2billion) on the exercise.