Don’t tie yourself on us, UPDF tells off Anite

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Lt Col Deo Akiiki, the deputy army spokesperson

The national army has distanced itself from remarks made by ruling NRM party MPs, mixing the force in the proposed scrapping of the presidential age limit clause.

“The army will keep its mandate of safeguarding Uganda’s territorial integrity,” UPDF spokesman, Brig Richard Karemire, said on Friday.

Lt Col Deo Akiiki, the deputy army spokesperson, told the state-run New Vision that as UPDF, they are non-partisan.

“If the statement was made on the Floor of the House as the army, we would have responded promptly because we have our representative in Parliament,” he said.

The soldier told Ugandans to treat Privatisation minister Evelyn Anite’s remarks as a personal statement.

The junior minister for finance told MPs who are intimidating pro-age limit MPs to know that “we are the party in power and we have the majje (army)”.

“You can’t intimidate a ruling party…we have the support of the army,” she told NBS television.

She went on: “For them they are looking for support, but we are not. We are the party in government; we have the support of the (military).”

But the army said it’s a neutral force and will not take side in the pro-age limit removal debate.

A young city lawyer, Denis Nyombi, says however much he is tempted to react on this debate, response to such “a brain as Anite’s], is an insult to himself.

“I didn’t know you are an MP. But, by Ugandan standards, now I know you are one and hence the title ‘honourable.’ I love your role especially when a certain one person’s selfish interests are in pursuit,” Nyombi couldn’t restrain himself as earlier promised.

“I think I have seen you on a few occasions. At one point, kneeling somewhere. I am told the Place is called Kyankwanzi, then on another occasion, dressed in Military attire. Little did I know, it’s that easy to be a soldier- by mere dressing in military colours.”

He said by this measure, Dr. Chameleon [singer Jose Chameleone] would be a top General, because he has done it all- wearing all designs of military attire.

“Having passed the test, now you ably assure the country, how you are a ruling party, with support of ‘magye’ (military).”

What NRM strategists say

NRM lawyers, strategists and MPs in a 13-page research paper quoted by The Observer, outline at least 10 reasons why the presidential age limits in the constitution must be scrapped.

Titled Narrative on Constitutional Amendments 2017, the paper attempts to justify why article 102(b), which caps the lower and upper presidential candidature ages at 35 and 75 years, must be dropped from the constitution.

The authors of the research paper, according to the newspaper, are; NRM lawyer Kiwanuka Kiryowa, Igara East MP Raphael Magyezi, Peter Ogwang (Usuk), Robinah Nabbanja (Kakumiro Woman), Arinaitwe Rwakajara (Workers), Simeo Nsubuga (Kassanda South) and Jackson Kafuuzi (Kyaaka South), Solomon Silwany (Bukooli Central), Margaret Komuhangi (Nakasongola Woman) and Mariam Naigaga (Namutumba Woman).

They argue that the upper age cap is one of the constitutional rigidities that should be done away with. Seventy-five years, they argue, is an arbitrary number that has no justification.

Uganda is not an island or unique in terms of governance, other countries in the region don’t have this kind of archaic restriction in their constitutions, the paper says.

Ugandans, according to the paper, have capacity and freedom to choose the person who should lead the country as president through regular free and fair elections in accordance with article 103 of the constitution.

That right should be guaranteed, and not restricted, they contend.

The authors say Uganda should copy what they call “good examples” of other countries like Israel, which permits all their available “leadership resources” to remain and compete for elections.

“The host cannot send off the best dancer at the time when the people have just warmed up to enjoy the dance because that would be an anti-climax, which is not permissible in organized societies,” they say.

Additional reporting by The Observer

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