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Uganda: Don’t gag Age Limit debate- Otafiire appeals

As debate over the yet-to-be tabled proposed amendment on the presidential age limit heats up and gets caustic every other day, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire has warned groups for and against the lifting of the 75 year upper age cap for presidential candidates not to attempt to gag each other.

In a wide-ranging interview last week with The Observer at his office in Kampala, Otafiire, the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said the country needs to have a healthy debate on the proposal.

Maj Gen Otafiire is expected, as minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, to deliver to parliament the Constitution Amendment Bill 2017, which may carry a hugely divisive proposal to remove article 102 (b) that caps the upper age of presidential candidates at 75 years.

Asked whether in his own opinion Article 102 (b) on the presidential age limit needs to be amended, he said: “You see, there is a hullabaloo about 102 (b) unnecessarily.

You will recall that only recently there was an attempt to address this article [Kafeero Ssekitoleko private member’s bill] and an NRM-dominated parliament rejected it.

It is dangerous for a democracy, for the minority or majority to try to gag the other side. Allow people to talk for the age limit. Allow people to talk against lifting the age limit. Then we either have consensus or put it to vote.”

Otafiire declined to say whether or not he supports the amendment he will bring to parliament.

Commenting on another controversial proposed amendment of Article 26 to allow government take compulsory acquisition of private land without prior compensation, Otafiire said the amendment will ensure that infrastructure projects are implemented in time.

“We are not against prior compensation, but the question is adequate compensation. How adequate is adequate? Government goes by the valuation of the government valuer.

“In case the property owner disagrees with our valuation, that stalemate should not stop public works. We are saying that in case of a stalemate, the government should put the money in a court of law, which the property owner can access if he or she wishes,” Otafiire said.

He described as ‘lumpens in leadership’ some of the local government leaders who heckled and poured water on him at Namboole stadium last week.

Otafiire had gone to Namboole to represent President Museveni at a meeting organised by the Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA). The leaders said they wanted to hear from the president himself, and not a minister.

Source: The Observer | Uganda 

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