The ruling party, National Resistance Movement (NRM) has set up a committee to scrutinize a proposal seeking to extend the elective term of office from five to seven years.
Yesterday, President Yoweri Museveni convened the NRM parliamentary caucus and government chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa revealed that the issue of the seven-year term was a major discussion during the meeting.
According to Nankabirwa, a committee of lawyers from the party has been set up to discuss the legalities and technicalities around the proposal of the seven-year term before a harmonized position is reached.
Some of the members on the committee include deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana, Defence minister Adolf Mwesige, Security minister Henry Tumukunde and Planning minister David Bahati among others.
“So I realized that extension of the term of Parliament to seven years was something that was catching fire around Parliament and you can agree with me. So we discussed and we even consulted further with the chairman of the party and he repeated the views he gave to the committee of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs.
So I set up a committee of lawyers to see whether it will be legal, the technicalities around it. Do we have mandate as members of Parliament to present it? So they will be harmonising that position – but it appears to be a very popular stand and I could not manage to stand in the way of the many people who are pushing it,” said Nankabirwa.
The move to extend the term of elective offices from five to seven years came to the limelight early this month, when Arua Municipality MP, Ibrahim Abiriga disclosed his plans to table a private member’s bill that seeks to extend the term of all elective offices.
According to Abiriga, the current five years are not adequate for an elected leader to implement his/her programmes, pledges or projects. Last week, Museveni indicated his support for the proposal while meeting members of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee to discuss the Raphael Magyezi bill that seeks to remove presidential age limits.
Museveni said that the leaders in Africa have much more to do and need adequate time to develop the continent.
“For these countries with all these problems, two terms of five years is just a joke. Those who talk about this are just looking at improving their CVs. We might not discuss it now but there is merit at looking at the seven years. It would give some time to these young countries to develop. France has seven-year terms, I do not see what they have lost,” said Museveni.
Meanwhile, Nankabirwa also said that the caucus meeting resolved to have the controversial ‘Age Limit’ bill, which seeks to among others amend Article 102(b) that caps the presidential age limits between 35 and 75 years, to be handled by Parliament before Christmas.
She also said that voting on the bill will be by roll call and tally as stipulated in the Parliament Rules of Procedure. Parliament is expected to start debate on the Constitution (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017 today afternoon. On the order paper yesterday, the bill was listed under business to follow.
Rule 89 of the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure stipulate that voting at the second and third readings of the bill for an Act of Parliament to amend a provision of the Constitution has to be by roll call and tally.
Article 262 of the Constitution stipulates that, for a bill for an Act of Parliament to amend any provision of the Constitution to pass, it must be supported at the second and third readings by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all Members of Parliament.
For the ‘Age Limit’ bill to pass through, NRM will require the support of 290 MPs out of the 436 MPs entitled to vote in Parliament. There are 18 ex-officios in Parliament who are not entitled to a vote.