The Member of Parliament for Igara West, Hon Raphael Magyezi has this afternoon tabled the controversial Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 for first reading. The bill seeks to amend the Constitution to remove the age limit for Presidential candidates which is currently capped at 75.
The bill has caused so much contention within and outside the Parliament building. Last week, it culminated into a two day brawl in Parliament.
24 Members of the Opposition and some sections of NRM MPs opposed to the bill were suspended for three consecutive sittings last week for indiscipline in the house.The remaining opposition MPs led by the leader of Opposition Hon Winnie Kiiza boycotted the sitting.
Today’s sitting which was chaired by the Rt. Hon. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga was predominantly partisan with the absence of the Opposition in the house.
The object of the bill is to amend the Constitution; to provide for the time within which to hold presidential, Parliamentary and local government council elections; to provide for eligibility requirements for a person to be elected as President of District Chairperson; to increase the number of days within which the Electoral Commission is required to hold a fresh election where a presidential election has been nullified; and for related matters.
The Bill has been sent to the committee on legal and Parliamentary affairs chaired by Hon Oboth Marksons Jacob, an NRM leaning independent MP representing West Budama County South in Tororo District.
The committee is required according the Parliament rules of procedure to consider the bill within forty five days. Rule 113 of the states that “The Committee shall examine the Bill in detail and make all such inquiries in relation to it as the Committee considers expedient or necessary and report to the House within forty five days from the date the Bill is referred to the Committee.”
However, apart from the tax bills that accompany the national budget, it is very unlikely for a committee to consider a bill of such magnitude in 45 days. The Speaker reminded the house that the interests of citizens must be given the utmost consideration when debating or considering the Bill and that the people should be included in the process. We wait to see how this will be executed.