Bireete: we’ll defeat life presidency or suffer Senegal, Congo fate

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Lawyer and human rights activist, Sarah Bireete, believes it is possible for Ugandans to defeat the moves being made by President Museveni to secure life presidency.

The Director of Centre for Constitutional Governance (CCG) was speaking at Africana hotel on Tuesday during the release of a systematic survey on voting patterns of MPs as far as Age Limit is concerned.

The survey released by Uganda Governance Monitoring Platform (UGMP), a civil society governance monitoring and advocacy group for better governance in Uganda and Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda [CCEDU] indicates more women MPs are in support of the bill as compared to their male counter parts.

“The issue of fear is affecting the whole age limit debate,” Bireete said.

She observed that the MPs, the people and everyone is fearing to speak out.

“People are not short of options. Ugandans can defeat life presidency,” she sounded optimistic.

Bireete during the release of the report

Bireete further recalled that Ugandans have changed presidents seven times before without following the constitution.

“If the age limit bill is endorsed, we are likely to go the usual way or the Senegal way when Wade was defeated on the ballot.”

Abdoulaye Wade is a Senegalese politician who was President of Senegal from 2000 to 2012. He is also the Secretary-General of the Senegalese Democratic Party and has led the party since it was founded in 1974.

Bireete presented two cases: Either parliament will endorse the life presidency or be defeated or it will sail through.

She said most of the female MPs are handpicked and supported by the state to the parliament that is why they can’t oppose age limit.

In what she called a mockery of democracy, Bireete observed that once leaders go against the wishes, beliefs and aspirations of the people, there is no democracy to talk about.

This, she said, has been evidenced in the age limit amendment process. “Majority women MPs are in support of life presidency and this is largely because of tokenism and appeasement in the campaign for women empowerment.”

She said the president is desperate and not likely to retire.  “But if age limit bill is defeated, we either work on peaceful transition come 2021.”

Lawyer Karamagi

“If Age Limit is defeated, a Joseph Kabila [Congo president] option of a president staying in power without elections awaits us. If bill sails through, Ugandans can work for the Senegal option where Wade was defeated on the ballot after lifting term limits. Whichever way, Ugandans can still cause change.”

Lawyer and activist, Andrew Karamagi, sad the Shs29m given to MPs to consult citizens on the age limit bill, to begin with, was illegal.

“There was no consultation at all, both in legal perspective and in practice,” Karamagi said.

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