Otafiire denies age limit talk after Namboole beating

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Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister, Gen Kahinda Otafiire, has spoken out on the Namboole meeting in which he was disgracefully kicked out.

A group of rowdy local government leaders barred the Justice Minister from addressing them at their meeting in Namboole Stadium.

The leaders who were expecting to be addressed by the President hurled insults and poured water on the minister after he attempted to speak to them.

Otafiire later told NTV that he never intended to talk about the removal of presidential age limit from the Constitution for which he was driven out.

“It is not true that what I was going to share was related to lifting of age limit from the Constitution,” Otafiire told NTV.

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“That was not on my agenda, neither was the president going to speak anything about it. In fact they did not chase me but they chased the president who had sent me to represent him.”

The 864 Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA members including district chairpersons, mayors, council speakers and Sub-county chairpersons who had convened to inform Museveni about their grievances which includes low wages, underfunding of district programmes.

Otafiire has been on the spot for allegedly proposing the amendment of the age limit clause which seeks to scrap the presidential age limit and allow President Museveni stand in 2021 elections.

Makers of the 1995 constitution speak

The makers of the 1995 constitution which opposition and several other Ugandans are trying to prevent from being abrogated, have also spoken out.

This is what they told Daily Monitor in separate interviews.

Mwesigwa Rukutana, Deputy AG: At the time, people thought at 75, a person is frail, his mind is no longer robust and he shouldn’t lead a nation. My argument was that there are always exceptions; one could be 80 and his brain is more robust than that of a 35-year-old.

Miria Matembe, former Ethics minister: I have heard people argue that it is discriminatory to put the age limit at 35 and then 75, when you read that article, which they say makes age limits discriminatory, you will find that it says anything brought in other proposals in this Constitution will not be discriminatory. You know, there is also what you call retirement age, you know people are putting retirement age for judges and public servants and, therefore, retirement age for President.

Charles Rwomushana, social critic: I have a recollection of that debate. But it was largely to prevent Obote; they were scared of Obote, they feared that he would come back and contest. On the lower age of 35, I think there was also fear of youth groups and it was around the same time that they created positions for the youth and women.

Augustine Ruzindana, former IGG: I think the historical aspect is not relevant, the relevancy is now; at that time, there were other voices that didn’t see the reason of age and held that it is the fundamental rights of the individual to participate. But currently, there is the factor of the age group of this country; this is a country of majorly young people and even in the CA, majority were young people.

Maj Gen Mugisha Muntu, FDC party president: Largely, it was because of the recognition of a fact that our history has been turbulent and the turbulence was rooted in the abuse of power by leaders. So there was a focus on how we could put a safety valve in the Constitution. Ours was a country which was still grappling with the politics of leaders who are selfish, short sighted, who tend to abuse power, and, therefore, we knew it is the laws that would be embedded in the Constitution so that leaders could not abuse power. That is why the term limits were put in and the age limit. When we were doing that, we never even imagined that there would be a possibility of anybody attempting to change it.

Cecilia Ogwal, Dokolo Woman MP: Situations were already clear that the proper management of the State had become rather difficult for President Museveni. There was war continuing in the north, poverty had deepened, the currency had lost value; the politics of the country had become very chaotic and there was a lot of segregation of some section of Ugandans. That was bound to be a recipe for the acceptance of [former president] Obote, whose government was tested. Apart from what Ugandans felt was his failure to manage the military, in the management of the State, he was generally good.

Additional reporting by Daily Monitor

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