Constitutional court sets date for Age Limit ruling

Constitutional court sets date for Age Limit ruling
Justice Owiny-Dollo, one of the five judges who heard the petition

The Constitutional court has set July 26 as the date it will deliver the judgement of a petition challenging the removal of the age limit cap from the constitution. The same challenged amendment also increased the term of legislators from 5 to 7 years.

“Take note that judgement in the consolidated petitions heard in Mbale is now ready for delivery. If no appearance is made on your behalf or somebody by law authorised to act for you, judgment will be delivered in your absence,” reads the letter dated 13th July 2018, sent to petitioners by the Court of Appeal registrar.

The Constitution Amendment Bill No.2 of 2017, passed by parliament in September 2017, originated from a private member’s bill tabled by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi. Its amendment removed the upper age cap of 75 years and the lower age cap of 35 years for any citizen to contest for the highest office in the land.

It also extended the term of office for MPs and elected local government leaders from five to seven years and reinstated presidential term limits that had been removed in 2005.

The constitutional amendment was challenged by seven petitioners, whose petitions were consolidated at the time of the hearing. They include Male Kiwanuka Mabiriizi, Winnie Kiiza, the leader of opposition in parliament, Uganda Law Society, opposition chief whip Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, and four other legislators.

The petitioners argued that the Constitutional court should overturn the controversial amendment on grounds that it violated the Constitution. The Constitutional court started hearing the petition on April 9th, 2018 and ended on April 19th.

The delay to deliver the judgment caused concern among petitioners and general public. James Byamukama a partner with Byamukama, Kaboneka & Co. Advocates and one of the petitioners in a June 20 letter to chief justice Bart Katurebe argued that after two months since the hearing ended, the court was silent as to when the judgment would be delivered.

“At the end of the hearing of the matter in Mbale on April 19, 2018, Your Lordships committed court to deliver judgment expeditiously albeit on notice. This was in line with Article 137(7) of the Constitution and Rule 10 of the Constitutional Petitions & References Rules, that constitutional petitions shall be heard and determined expeditiously,” Byamukama argued then.

Last month, while meeting speaker Rebecca Kadaga, foreign ambassadors accredited to Uganda also questioned the delayed delivery of the judgement.