Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Statement on the Proposed Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and the Campaign to remove the 75-year age limit for presidential candidates in Uganda

Date: 21st July 2017

Type:For Immediate Release

Aware of the political instability that Uganda has gone through and the need to foster economic, political stability and peace, we the CSOs assembled here, make the following observations and call for action:

On the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that seeks to amend Article 26 of the Constitution in accordance with articles 259 and 262 of the Constitution:

1        That the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2017 is brought in bad faith considering that it seeks to permit government to compulsorily acquire private property of a person before prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation, prior to the taking of possession or acquisition of the property. Such government action would be misdirected and inconsistent and in contravention with Article 26 (2) (b) (i) which makes it mandatory for such a law to provide prior to the compulsory taking of possession or acquisition of such property for prompt, fair and adequate compensation to have been effected;

2        That where acquisition of property has been met with resistance from the owner, the legitimate action would be for government to establish a tribunal to arbitrate among the aggrieved parties; which is not envisaged under the Bill;

3        That if enacted into law, the Bill would contravene Article 92 of the Constitution that restricts Parliament from passing any law that seeks to alter the decision or judgment of any court as between the parties to the decision or judgment. In Constitutional Appeal No. 02 of 2014 in the Supreme Court of Uganda between Uganda National Roads Authority vs Irumba Asumani and Peter Majelah, court declared that acts of taking possession of land prior to payment of compensation contravened the right to property as enshrined in Article 26(2) of the 1995 Constitution;

4        Besides, the Bill is discriminatory and if passed would create land ownership insecurity, landlessness, poverty since beyond the state and the land owner, there exists other vested interests such as spouses, banks and purchasers for value.


On the potential amendment of Article 102(b) with respect to the age limitations for presidential candidates, we wish to observe the following:

1        That the framers of the 1995 Constitution were mindful of Uganda’s history characterized by forces of tyranny, oppression and exploitation; and therefore envisaged that Article 102(b) prescribing the age limit for president of not being less than 35 years and not more than 75 years of age, and Article 105 (2) before it was amended, for a maximum of two-five year terms as important safeguards towards securing peaceful transfer of power; avoiding dictatorship, absolute hold on power and imperial life presidency;

2        That in view of Uganda’s fragile democracy and weak state institutions, the need to provide checks and balances on absolute power is key in ensuring political and economic stability of Uganda;

3        That amending Article 102(b) of the Constitution would open the floodgates for life presidency and absolute dictatorship;

Call for Action:

Aware of the negative and disastrous consequences that would arise from effecting both Constitutional amendments, we call upon MPs and Ugandans in general to exercise vigilance and reject these proposals with the contempt they deserve.


Civil Society Organisations include:

ACTION AID UGANDA
AKINA MAMA WA AFRIKA (AMWA)
CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL GOVERNANCE (CCG)
CENTER FOR WOMEN IN GOVERNANCE (CEWIGO)
CITIZENS WATCH UGANDA (CEW-IT)
CITIZENS’ COALITION FOR ELECTORAL DEMOCRACY IN UGANDA (CCEDU)
COALITION FOR ACTION ON 1325 (COACT)
EAST AFRICAN SUB REGIONAL SUPPORT INTIATIVES FOR ADVANCEMENT OF WOMEN (EASSI)
FORUM FOR WOMEN IN DEMOCRACY (FOWODE)
FOUNDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVE (FHRI)
GREAT LAKES INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES (GLISS)
HUMAN RIGHTS NETWORK UGANDA (HURINET)
INVOLVE UGANDA
INSTITUTTE FOR SOCIAL TRANSFORMATON (IST)
LEGAL AID SERVICE PROVIDERS’ NETWORK (LASPNET)
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN ORGANISATIONS IN UGANDA (NAWOU)
OXFAM UGANDA
PARTICPATORY ECOLOGICAL LAND USE MANAGEMENT (PELUM UGANDA)
THE UGANDA ASSOCIATION OF WOMEN LAWYERS (FIDA)
UGANDA NATIONAL NGO FORUM (UNNGOF)
UGANDA WOMEN'S NETWORK (UWONET)

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