Uganda’s top court Thursday upheld a decision to scrap presidential age limits, paving the way president Museveni 74, to run as president in 2021 and beyond.
The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by Museveni’s opponents, who had appealed against a ruling by the constitutional court that removed an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders.
“This appeal therefore fails,” Chief Justice Bart Katureebe declared in handing down the court’s majority 4-3 verdict.
“The decision of the Constitution Court is upheld and each party will bear their costs,” said Katureebe.
President Museveni Press Secretary Don Wanyama posted on Twitter: “4:3 it goes. This is another monumental step in improving our democracy and rule of law, generally. I don’t see any victors or vanquished in this. Uganda wins.”
With the judgement, President Museveni will be free to contest for presidency in 2021 and indefinitely thereafter.
The justices on the panel were; Chief Justice Bart Katureebe, Stella Arach Amoko, Eldad Mwangusya, Prof Lillian Tibatemwa-Ekirikubinza, Jotham Tumwesigye, Rubby Opio Aweri, and Paul Mugamba.
Three judges ruled in favour of an application seeking to nullify the Constitutional amendment that removed the 75-year-age limit on presidential candidates.
The judges are Tibatemwa-ekirikubinza, Justice Paul Mugambe and Eldard Mwanguhya.
Justice Tibatemwa, a law professor, ruled that the amendment of the Constitution removing the age limit was enacted without strict compliance with Parliamentary rules.
She said the principle of severance does not apply in the instant case because the entire process was so flawed that the entire Act is unconstitutional.
“Because of the defectiveness of the Certificate of Compliance issued by Parliament confirming that the procedural requirements of amendment had been followed, I hereby declare the entire Constitutional Amendment Act of 2018 to be null and void,” said Tibatemwa, adding, “A Court can’t sever a document which has no legal standing.”
She further observed that the power to amend is not the same as the power to rewrite the constitution.
“The power to replace is with the people and not with the people’s representatives,” she added.
The judge, however, observed that the amendment of article 102(b) did not violate the basic structure of the Constitution, and that it was within the powers of Parliament to pass the amendment.
On his part, Justice Mwanguhya said the principle of severance where sections of the amendment being unconstitutional would be separated from the remainder of the Act was wrongly applied and therefore, the provisions being part of the entire Act cannot be partly Constitutional and unconstitutional.
He said the age limit Amendment was unconstitutional because the process through which it was done was fraught with illegalities and mala fides.
The three appellants include six Members of Parliament led by former leader of Opposition Hon Winnie Kiiza, Hassan Kassim Male Mabirizi and Uganda Law society.