MPs shy away from Tooro conference over age limit bill

MPs shy away from Tooro conference over age limit bill
Minister Tom Butime was booed for his support for the age limit bill

Members of Parliament from Tooro region skipped the Tooro People’s conference for fear of being castigated for supporting the Constitution (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017.

The controversial bill passed majorly by ruling party MPs last week, paves way for the scrapping of the presidential age limit and extending the tenure of members of parliament from five to seven years.

The decision has drawn angry reactions from voters forcing some legislators to stay away from public events for fear of reprisal. Only 3 out of the 15 legislators from the region attended the annual Tooro People’s conference.

Only Alex Ruhunda (Fort Portal Municipality), Lawrence Akugizibwe (Mwenge North) and their Mwenge Central counterpart, Tom Butime attended the conference. Ruhunda, despite being an NRM MP publicly opposed the age limit bill.

Speaking at the conference, Butime who also doubles as Local Government minister, said his other colleagues, who he declined to name, told him that although they are in full support of the conference, they couldn’t attend for fear of being attacked by people because of their support for lifting the presidential term limits.

“I think you must be surprised why most of the MPs from Tooro are not here. Some of them told me that they do not want to attend because they will be abused because of last week events in parliament,” Butime said.

He claimed that shortly after the passing of the bill, some voters took to social media to insult the legislators. According to Butime, the MPs promised to attend subsequent conferences when the situation normalises.

Butiime’s comment drew murmurs from the participants while some of them booed him. He defended his position to support the scrapping of the presidential age limit, saying his voters approved the proposal during his consultations.

“I voted to lift the term limits because people from my constituency supported it. We should learn to respect the opinions of the leaders”, Butime said.

Responding to Butime’s comments, Prof Edward Rugumayo, the chairperson of the Tooro Elders Forum, said that it was a pity that the leaders failed to turn for fear of being insulted.

“It is a pity that our leaders thought they would be insulted at the conference. This conference tolerates the views of every person irrespective of their political ideology,” Rugumayo said.