2021 Election Watch

EA Court to give verdict today on Mabirizi’s case against the removal of Age Limit (Article 102 (b)

The fate of President Museveni appearing on the ballot paper for the 2021 Presidential elections, will be determined today by the East African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania. The regional court that will be presided over by Principal Judge, Monica Mugenyi, is expected to pass its verdict starting at 9:30am.

“Take notice that the above reference is fixed for delivery of judgment via video conferencing on Wednesday September 30, 2020 from 9:30am before Hon. Justice Monica Mugenyi, the principal judge, Hon. Dr Charles Nyawello and Hon. Charles Nyacha,” reads in part the judgment notice that was sent out to the concerned parties last month.

“You are hereby required to appear in court via video conference and abide by the guidelines for video conferencing. Please note that if there is no appearance on your part, the Court will proceed to deliver the judgment and make necessary orders, your absence notwithstanding,” the notice further reads.

The reference that will be decided today, involves a Ugandan lawyer, Mr Male Mabirizi, who is challenging the decision of the Supreme Court in upholding the amendment of the Constitution to remove the only remaining safety clause on the age limit for the president.

The decision of the Supreme Court, has since given a green light to President Museveni, who will be above 75 years at the next polls to contest.
However, lawyer Mabirizi wants to block this move by having age limit clause of 102 (b), reinstated in the Constitution.

Should the regional court agree with the arguments of Mr Mabirizi, age limit clauses will be reinstated into the Constitution and this will make President Museveni ineligible to contest again since he is already above the age limit which is 75.

On the contrary, should the court dismiss the reference, Mr Museveni will be eligible to be on the ballot paper as the flag bearer for the NRM party since top party organs have endorsed him as their sole presidential candidate in the next year’s polls.
In his reference which he filed last year, Mr Mabirizi seeks a declaration that the removal of the age limit safeguard or amendment of the Constitution to remove the presidential age limit under Article 102 (b) of the Constitution is contrary to Articles 6(d), 7(2), 8(1) (c) and 123(3)(c) of the EAC Treaty.
Mr Mabirizi contends that the Uganda government amended the presidential age limit clauses (102b) through violence and deployment of military police in and outside Parliament, among other misdeeds, which he says are unconstitutional. 
He also states that the same age limit amendment was done without complying with the strict procedures contained in the Constitution, Acts of Parliament, and Rules of Procedure of Parliament.

The amendment of the constitution was done amidst fist fights between the MPs who were opposed to the amendment and security forces.

Background

In April last year, in majority judgment of 4:3, the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Constitutional Court that okayed the amendment of Article 102(b) to scrap the upper age limit cap of 75 years and the lower age cap of 35 for anyone to contest for the country’s presidency.
This did not go well with Mr Mabirizi who was dissatisfied with the decision of the highest court in the land prompting him to file a reference at the regional court, whose verdict is today.


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