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Age Limit Debate: Kadaga Makes U-turn on Sub-Judice Rule :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Age Limit Debate: Kadaga Makes U-turn on Sub-Judice Rule

Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga today shifted her ruling on the matter of sub judice after Opposition legislators questioned whether parliament was proceeding well to debate the Age Limit Bill.
Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga today made a U-turn on her ruling on sub judice.

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Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga today shifted her ruling on the matter of sub judice after Opposition legislators questioned whether parliament was proceeding well to debate the ‘Age Limit' Bill.

The rule relates to a matter that is under trial or being considered by a judge or court. Rule 64(2) of the Rules of Procedure states that a mat­ter shall be con­sid­ered sub-juice if it refers to ac­tive crim­i­nal or civil proceedings and in the opin­ion of the Speaker, the dis­cus­sion of such a mat­ter is likely to prej­u­dice its' fair de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Led by the Shadow Attorney General Wilfred Niwagaba, Opposition MPs raised procedural matters concerning the debate on the presidential age limit even when the matter is still before the East Africa Court of Justice.

Niwagaba told parliament that the Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza, Manjiya County MP John Baptist Nambeshe, Ntungamo Municipality MP Gerald Karuhanga, Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemuju Nganda and others had petitioned the East Africa Court of Justice demanding that the court stops the ongoing process of constitution amendment to remove presidential age limits.

Parliament today started the debate on the controversial Constitution (Amendment) Bill tabled by Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi. It seeks to have Article 102(b) amended to remove age caps for a president currently at 35 and 75 years respectively.

According to the petition, the MPs and others are seeking a declaration "that the removal of age limit safeguard and/amendment of the constitution to remove the age limit under Article 102(b) is contrary to Article 6 (d), Article 7(2), Article 8 (1,c) and 123 (3,c) of the East Africa Community Treaty." 

These East Africa Community Treaty articles that MPs referred to constitute human rights, rule of law and good governance principles which are supposed to be espoused by its member states.

The petitioners are also seeking the court to stop the Government of Uganda through Attorney General (the respondent) from effecting acts that are detrimental to the dispute. The acts they mention include considering the bill to amend the constitution, proceeding to second and third reading of the bill and consequently enacting it.

The petitioners also seek court to declare the raid on parliament by security forces on September 27, the day that the bill was presented before parliament, as inconsistent with good governance principles enshrined in the treaty.

"A declaration that the massive deployment of a variety of security personnel such as the Special Forces Command, the Uganda Police and vigilant groups under the command of Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura that ended up by restraining public access to parliament and to create fear among the public is inconsistent with the spirit of the treaty," the petition reads.

They also sought discovery and disclosure of Speaker Rebecca Kadaga's mobile and fixed phones call logs, her text messages and chats on Whatsapp. They want disclosure of Kadaga's written correspondences or letters to security chiefs and parliament staff inviting them to wreak havoc in parliament on September 27.

Niwagaba tabled this petition before parliament before asking Speaker Kadaga whether it is not procedurally right for her to stay consideration of the controversial ‘Age Limit' Bill until the court makes a pronouncement on the matter.

He said that his procedure was embedded in Article 38(2) of the East African Treaty which says that any partner State shall refrain from any act when there is a matter or dispute before the Court and in his case the dispute is between the MPs led by Kiiza versus the Attorney General.

In her ruling, Kadaga said that parliament was proceeding well since Article 38(2) under which Niwagaba moved has not been tested. She also questioned whether the Court in Arusha can direct parliament to close.

“Who are the parties in the dispute? I don't know which dispute has been referred to the Council. Show justification that the matter is sub judice. I am not convinced that there is a dispute, to which this House is a party,” said Kadaga.

//Cue in: “A matter shall...

Cue out:...House is a party.”//

Today's ruling by Kadaga departs from her position on the floor of parliament last week when she denied debate on the statement by the Leader of Opposition Winnie Kiiza in which she sought answers following the September 27th raid on parliament. In her statement, Kiiza also questioned whether parliament was proceeding well with the consideration on the Bill.

Kadaga then said that she was not allowing debate on the statement by Kiiza since she did not know how far the MPs should go while debating the statement since the issue was before court. Kadaga also noted that all MPs were potential witnesses and therefore a debate on the statement by Kiiza could not be allowed.

This departure from her earlier ruling angered MPs including Kira Municipality MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, Kyadondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu and Makindye West MP Allan Ssewanyana who questioned Kadaga on her U-turn.

MP Ssemujju said that Kadaga was confusing them and that they currently do not know what ruling of the Chair they should take. This same query was raised by Kyagulanyi who put it to Speaker Kadaga that Parliament could not go ahead with the ‘Age Limit' debate when the matter is before court.

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