Majority of the petitioners in the ruling on the consolidated petitions that challenged last year’s Constitutional Amendment Act had earlier expressed some level of satisfaction with yesterday’s ruling by the justices of the constitutional court, only to change their positions and say that they want to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The five justices ruled by 4-1 to uphold provisions of Constitutional Amendment 2017 that removed age limits for anyone to contest for presidency, arguing that Parliament broke no law in making the amendment.
However, the panel of justices sitting in Mbale on July 26, 2018 overwhelmingly rejected the provision of the amendment that sought to extend the term of office for sitting Members of Parliament as Local councils 3 and 5 from five to seven years.
Senior counsel Wandera Ogalo who led the petitioners and also represented Uganda Law Society, told court that although they didn’t agree with the entire ruling, they would abide by it.
Counsel Arias Lukwago, who represented six opposition MPs said: “The frustration and disillusionment many of you and I feel this evening cannot be gainsaid. But I believe it has not been an exercise in futility, for the luganda adage that “nkuwaabidde takuvirako awo” has come to pass.
Lukwago hailed the justices for introducing the concept of Basic Structure as a tool of judicial activism.
“I am glad that the Constitutional Court has embraced and incorporated in our constitutional jurisprudence the novel doctrine of “Basic Structure”; a very instrumental tool that informed judicial activism in a number of commonwealth jurisdictions like India, South Africa, Belize etc. I’m only disappointed that they shied away from applying it to all the provisions of the impugned age limit Act and strike it down. Nonetheless, it provides a firm foundation for the next course of action.”
“We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that even leopards sweat. We should not despair. Step by step, brick by brick we shall build the Uganda we want. Remember that dictatorships world over do not fall by gravitational force like ripe mangoes, but through sustained struggles and concerted actions of right thinking people,” added Lukwago.
MP Allan Ssewannyana, Makindye East, one of the MPs who petitioned the Constitutional Court, also expressed content with the ruling. He wrote: “Abaganda tugaamba akugoba tabula kya kusuuza wade byona tetwabifunye naye omunyago ogumu at least twagubasuziiza,” Which can be translated as: “There is a silver lining to every dark cloud.”
Some of the six MPs who were represented by Lukwago said they were dissatisfied with the verdict and would appeal to the Supreme Court.
Justice Kakuru triggers excitement
Out of all the five justices, Justice Kenneth Kakuru’s judgment drew the most praise from the anxious public with his widely referenced judgment.
Kakuru said that the “Entire constitutional amendment was null and void,”
The outcomes of the final judgment in Mbale yesterday has given President Museveni freedom to stand for presidency in 2021 and possibly the rest of his life. However independent lawyer Male Mabirizi told the judges that he didn’t agree with the petition and that will appeal to their decision in the Supreme Court.