UGANDAN HIGH COURT REFERS CASE OF SUSPENDED MPS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

KAMPALA-- The High Court here has referred a case involving six suspended Members of Parliament to the Constitutional Court in a case in which the MPs are challenging their suspension from Parliament last month by the Speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, during the debate on a Bill to remove a presidential age limit of 75 years from the country's Constitution.

On Wednesday, the presiding judge, Justice Margaret Oguli-Oumo, who is deputy head of the civil division of the High Court, referred the case to the Constitutional Court, saying it was a matter of interpretation of the Constitution. This is a matter of constitutional interpretation and the High Court has no powers to handle it, she ruled.

Speaker Kadaga suspended the MPs during the debate to lift the presidential age limit. The Bill has since been passed by Parliament and was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni on Dec 27.

The suspended lawmakers are Gerald Karuhanga (Ntungamo Municipality), Jonathan Odur (Erute County), Mubarak Munyagwa (Kawempe South), Anthony Akol (Kilak North), Allan Ssewanyana (Makindye West) and Ibrahim Semujju Nganda (Kiira Municipality).

Earlier on Wednesday, the Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Winfred Kiiza, and some of the suspended MPs arrived at the High Court, set for hearing of the case in which the Speaker was expected to defend herself over the suspension of the legislators. The legislators were suspended for a period equivalent to seven sittings for misconduct.

Also present at court were supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM), who waited outside court, holding placards with messages supporting Kadaga's decision to suspend the MPs, arguing that she did so in accordance with the law.

The lawyer of the suspended MPs, Erias Lukwago, last week said they intended to cross-examine Kadaga on the way she handled the legislators. The MPs accuse the Speaker of ordering them out of the parliamentary chambers without giving them a hearing, while they were discharging their constitutional mandate to draw the Speaker to rules of procedure in relation to representation of the Bill.

They further accuse the Speaker of acting in total disregard of provisions of the law by suspending them, after she had already adjourned the House, which meant she had ceased to have powers to suspend them. They want the court to declare the Speaker's decision unlawful and to set it aside.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

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