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Ugandan MPs seek legal redress at EACJ

DEUS NGOWI in Arusha

July. 14, 2020

EIGHT Members of Parliament (MPs) out of 24 who have been suspended by Ugandan Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga have filed a reference with the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), seeking several declarations, including nullifying the removal of the age limit for presidential aspirants.
Led by Mr Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka, the MPs accuse the Speaker, among other things, of suspending 24 MPs during the tabling of the Constitutional Amendment Bill without affording them a right to be heard.
The parliamentarians, who opposed the amendments, were dragged outside the House by Special Force Command (CFS) and taken to diverse police stations for detention.
The applicants assert that the fundamental rights of the parliamentarians and the public in the gallery protected and guaranteed by the Constitution were violated and infringed by the Speaker's decision of inviting and allowing the CFS to raid and siege Parliament to enforce compliance with her orders that the applicants allege to be unlawful.
They further allege that the continuation to do business in the House by the Speaker with the other MPs who has been terrorised and traumatised by the acts of the security operatives against their colleagues and consequent acts of exclusion of the 24 members brutally ejected, tortured and treated in a cruel, degrading and dehumanising manner is inconsistent with the provisions of the EAC Treaty.
Further, the conduct of the Speaker on September 27, 2017, they allege, fell below legitimate expectation of the Speaker as an accountable leader in a democracy adhering to and upholding the rule of law, democracy, good governance, accountability and transparency in the management of public affairs.
It is the applicants' contention that the removal of the age limit through the Constitutional Amendment Bill is compromised in favour of President Yoweri Museveni who is the only and sole beneficiary and has shown that, one is either in support of the removal and hence on his side or against the removal and hence against him.
The applicants seek declarations that the acts through commission, omission or active and direct or indirect participation of the Speaker SFC in relation to events are contrary to Articles 6(d), 7(2), 8(1)(c) and 123(3)(c) of the EAC Treaty.
That the removal of the age limit safeguard and/or amendment of the Constitution to remove the age limit under Article 102 (b) of the Constitution is contrary to Articles 6(d), 7(2), 8(1)(c) and 123(3)(c) of the EAC Treaty.
They also seek a declaration by the EACJ that Constitutional (Amendment) (No 2) Act, 2018 enacted by the Parliament of Uganda and assented to by the President of Uganda on violates Articles 6(d), 7(2), 8(1) (c), 30 and 123(3)(c) of the EAC Treaty.
They further seek a declaration that the Constitutional (Amendment) (No 2) Act, 2018 and the entire process of presenting before Parliament for debate the Constitutional (Amendment) (No 2) Bill, 2017 for the first, second and third reading, resulting in the passing of the Bill and the consequently enactment of the Act was a fraudulent scheme designed by the government of Uganda to entrench the incumbent as a life President contrary to and in the violation of Articles 6(d), 7(2), 8(1)(c), 30 and 123(3)(c) of the EAC Treaty.
Applicants allege that the act of Parliament of passing the Bill where Parliament was under siege by the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces and other security agencies that at the same time committed the acts of torture and violence against MPs opposed to the government and the ruling party (NRM) position of amending the Constitution and enacting the amendments violates Articles 6(d), 7(2), 8(1)(c), 30 and 123(3)(c) of the EAC Treaty.
The MPs ask the EACJ for a permanent injunction against the government and state of the Republic of Uganda from implementing the Constitution (Amendments) Act, 2018 on account of being conceptualised, initiated, processed, enacted and assented to in contravention of the fundamental and operational principles of the EAC.
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