Najjemba Defends Age-Limit Stance

Mariam Najjemba Mbabaali, one of the ministers behind calls for the removal of the age cap on the president, has said the clause is discriminatory.

In an interview with The Observer on Monday, the minister of state for urban development said: “I feel that the current article is discriminatory because it’s only about the president.”

Najjemba added: “If it’s about the age limit, it should be uniform across the board in all electoral offices.”

The minister is one of several cabinet members pushing for the amendment of article 102(b) in the constitution to remove the presidential age cap of 75 years. Last week, The Observer reported that ministers Najjemba, Rebecca Otengo (Nothern Uganda), Charles Bakkabulindi (Sports) and Alex Onzima (Local Government), among others, had supported such an amendment during the cabinet meeting of March 20.

We also reported that Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, the justice and constitutional affairs minister, Frank Tumwebaze (Presidency and Kampala) and First Lady Janet Museveni (Karamoja) had spoken against the proposal, questioning its motive and timing. Asked why she wants the presidential age-limit scrapped, Najjemba retorted: “But why should you limit the age limit on the president only yet he doesn’t serve alone? He works with many people as you are aware.”

The minister added that the president should be left to serve “as long as he is of sound mind.”

Rebecca Otengo, also a supporter of the age-limit cap removal, declined an interview on March 30.

“We will cross the bridge when we get there” is all she said in response to our interview request.

The cabinet debate on the age limit has caused uproar among opposition MPs, with some warning of dire consequences if the proposal is adopted.

“The two-term limit was removed without being tested, just like we have not tested the 75-age limit clause. It is as if the constitution is being amended to suit one man’s interest,” said Bernard Atiku (Ayivu country).

Masaka municipality MP, Mathias Mpuuga, who is also national coordinator of For God and my Country (4GC), said: “If they [NRM] go ahead [with the idea], it will embolden the activists to target Museveni as a person and not the NRM.” Mpuuga added that the issue pushes activists to reflect on the energy they need to defeat “personal rule.”

Source : The Observer

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