Electoral Commission Shies Away From Age Limit Debate

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In short
The Commission Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama told the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Wednesday afternoon that they are waiting for the decision of parliament following consultations with Ugandans to notify them the category of candidates to prepare for polls in 2021.

Electoral Commission-EC has shied away from making any submission on the proposed scrapping of the presidential age limit from the constitution.
 
The private member's bill tabled by the Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi seeks among other things to scrap Article 102 (b), which restricts the presidential age limits at between 35 and 75 years. The Bill also seeks to remove the 30-year-old lower cap limit and the 75 year upper cap limit for those contesting for  the post of Local council V chairperson provided under Article 183 (2) (b) of the Constitution.

 

The Bill also seeks to amend Article 61 (2) of the Constitution to provide that the Electoral Commission shall conduct a general election within the first 30 days of the last 120 days before the expiry of the term of the office of the President. Currently, Article 61 (2) requires EC to conduct general elections within the first 30 days of the last 90 days before the expiry of the term of the office of the President.
 


 
The Bill proposes an amendment to Article 104 (2), (3) and (6) to provide that a petition challenging a presidential election shall be lodged in the Supreme Court registry within 15 days, up from 10 and that the Supreme Court will inquire into the matter not later than 45 days, up from 30.
 
 
The Commission Chairperson, Justice Simon Byabakama told the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee on Wednesday afternoon that they are waiting for the decision of parliament following consultations with Ugandans to notify them the category of candidates to prepare for polls in 2021.

 
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Justice Byabakama said this when he led a team of officials from the EC before the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee chaired by West Budama South MP, Jacon Oboth-Oboth to present their submission on the Constitutional (Amendment) (No.2) Bill, 2017.



 He however, agreed with the proposed amendment to Article 61 (2), which seeks to extend the time for holding general elections. "The proposed period would be sufficient to traverse the country for purpose of collecting affidavit evidence. This answers the recommendations that were made by the Supreme Court in Presidential Election Petition No.1 of 2016 involving Amama Mbabazi Vs Yoweri Kaguta, Electoral Commission, Attorney General & Professor Oloka Onyango & 8 Others." said Byabakama.

 
EC is also in agreement with the proposed amendment to Article 104 (2), saying that it would improve on the quantity and quality of evidence filed in Court and also lessen the pressure on the entire litigation process.

 
Byabakama also welcomed the proposed amendment to Article 104 (6) of holding fresh presidential elections within 60 once the presidential elections are annulled.

 
He explained that the proposed time would cater for fresh processes, such as planning, procuring of additional materials as well as their attendant packaging and dispatch to the regions and eventually to polling stations.

 
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The Kenyan Constitution sets 90 days within, which to conduct fresh Presidential Election in case of an annulment. Byabakama however noted that the amendment of some clauses in Article 104 (2), (3) and (6) does automatically call for amendment of the Presidential Elections Act particularly S.59 (2) and (3) and other attendant electoral Laws.
 

 

About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.