Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, has accused former presidential candidate, Kizza Besigye, of having spearheaded the first constitutional amendments which paved way for the lifting of term limits.
Besigye who served as President Yoweri Museveni’s personal physician was the army’s chief of logistics and engineering when the 1995 Uganda constitution was instituted.
In 1999, Besigye wrote a document critical of the government, entitled “An Insider’s View of How the NRM Lost the Broad Base”. The document accused the NRM of becoming a sectarian kleptocracy and a one-man dictatorship.
Besigye was charged before a court martial for “airing his views in the wrong forum”. He later brokered a deal in 2000 in which the charges were dropped in exchange for an apology for publishing the document.
In October 2000, Besigye announced that he would run against Museveni in the 2001 elections. He retired from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces in 2001, having attained the rank of colonel.
In 2005, the 1995 Constitution was amended to provide for a multi-party political system at the same time removing term limits for the president.
According to Otafiire, it was Kizza Besigye, Paul Ssemogerere and the late Ssebaana Kizito who were some of the Constituent Assembly delegates who put a clause in the constitution to allow for amendment of the Constitution.
“I wonder why he [Besigye] accuses current regime of working towards constitutional amendment,” Otafiire said on Monday night while appearing on NBS television.
“He [Besigye] should blame himself first,” the minister insisted.
“Did Ugandans write the constitution? Yes! Did they put provision of changing the constitution? Yes! What do you want me to do?”
Otafiire said that he as a steward of the constitution is to allow Ugandans to debate and let the majority idea carry the day.
“Let Ugandans debate peacefully and resolve. They may make mistakes in the process and tomorrow they will correct them,” he added.
Speaking at Mpande village Luweero District during the burial of former Democratic Party president, John Ssebaana Kizito, Otafiire told the public not to be angry at him over the proposed age limit bill, saying it was not his responsibility but that of MPs.
“You are crucifying the wrong person over the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill on age limit. I have no powers to push for any law without the input of your Members of Parliament,” he cried out.
He added: “We have no reason to shed blood in Uganda yet we can sit and dialogue on the most pressing issues affecting our country. Those who are against negotiations should leave us and allow peace to prevail.”