Many opposition politicians are plotting to demand and campaign for a referendum as a popular move to block what is widely perceived as a sinister move by the ruling NRM party to lift the age limit and allow President Museveni to run in 2021 Presidential elections.
But Dr. Kizza Besigye, the four time presidential contender and his colleague also Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago say a referendum is a waste of time.
Besigye argues that “Museveni’s controlled Electoral Commission” cannot be relied on to organize and manage a credible electoral process.
He has consequently warned that its fate is as good as sealed as long as it is against “Museveni’s life presidency agenda.”
“We have consistently complained of previous elections which have not reflected the decisions of the people simply because they have not been held in a free and fair manner. And this intended referendum is not going to be any different as long as it is not in favour of the powers that be,” Besigye said.
Lukwago also warned that the referendum will only deliver “a controlled consent far from the true reflection of the will of the people as long as it is managed by an Electoral Commission.
Besigye has instead called for the creation of a transitional government which he considers a panacea for rigging the anticipated referendum since the EC will not be as indebted to that transitional authority as it has always been to President Museveni who is its appointing authority.
Besigye’s statement follows a recent call by the former presidential candidate and president of the People’s Development Party (PDP) Dr. Abed Bwanika to block the move to lift the president’s age limit courtesy of a campaign dubbed referendum 2017
Bwanika wrote to the Chairman of the Electoral Commission Justice Simon Byabakama presenting his request as chairman of the Referenda. The letter was copied to the Prime Minister, Parliament, party leaders and the Attorney General.
He has also asked for a meeting with the EC officials “to discuss the way forward regarding the matter” and he is receiving growing support from MPs and the general public with many of them calling for the same.
The presidential age limit debate gained ground early this month when the bill to amend the constitution suddenly appeared in the Uganda gazette and was reported in the media leading to wide public speculations that, article 102 which caps the president’s age at 75 would be scrapped at the end of the process.
This week, President Museveni denied being behind the campaign even though his deputy constitution minister Mwesigwa Rukutana confirmed the move. Democratic Party (DP) President Norbert Mao is one of the opposition leaders who has openly come out to support referendum 2017.
Former Museveni minister Captain Francis Babu who is not shy about his support for the lifting of the presidential age limit however says that those against the move should be prepared to tolerate divergent views and not issue threats.
“I don’t care whether the age limit is lifted or not but I am in favor of a constitutional review and amendment particularly for what I consider as the most significant amendment for now and that is restoring term limits,” Babu says.
” This is in the interest of our posterity and the important thing here is that even those fearing life presidency don’t have to do so as long as we restore term limits regardless of whatever age the sitting president will be,” he adds.
This week, acting Democratic Party Secretary General also launched on behalf of his party a campaign they dubbed ‘Kogikwatako’ meaning “If you dare touch it” referring to the constitution.