East African court has no powers to hear age limit case, says government

Ugandan Leader, Yower Museven in power since 1986

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Government has said the East African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania does not have the jurisdiction to hear the presidential age limit case, which was referred there recently by petitioners seeking to overturn the Supreme Court’s majority decision that dismissed the petition in April.
The government said this in its response to the age limit petition before the regional court.

Government says the issues raised by one of the petitioners, Mr Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka, have been duly resolved by competent courts of the partner states and there is no need to revisit the same matter.
“This honourable court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain an appeal against decisions of the competent courts of the member states,” the government response reads in part.

The government also denied all legal challenges that Mr Mabirizi raised in his suit in the East African Court of Justice.
In his petition filed in May, Mr Mabirizi states that the Uganda government amended the presidential age limit clauses (102b) through violence, deployment of military police in and outside Parliament, among other misdeeds, which actions he says are unconstitutional.
He also states that the same age limit amendment was done without complying with the procedures contained in the Constitution, acts of Parliament and rules of procedure of Parliament.

He wants the regional court to declare that the several actions and decisions of conceptualising, processing, pursuing and upholding the age limit amendment, were unconstitutional and infringed on the Treaty that established the East African Community.
In April, in a 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 lower age cap of 35.

The Supreme Court’s decision also gave leeway to President Museveni, who has been in power for more than three decades, to contest for presidency as many times as he wishes.
Justices in support of the removal of the presidential age limit were: Chief Justice Katureebe, Arach-Amoko, Jotham Tumwesigye and Rubby Opio-Aweri.
Those that were against age limit removal were Prof Lillian Tibatemwa Ekirikubinza, Mr Eldad Mwangusya and Mr Paul Mugamba.

What next?
With the filing in of the defence by government, the regional court will at an appropriate time summon both parties to Arusha and brainstorm on how they can effectively hear the case.
In the meantime, Mr Mabirizi has also been holding public campaigns lobbying for funds to prosecute this petition, arguing that it is a public interest case.

Daily Monitor

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