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.