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Age limit probe team afraid of upcountry hearings

The Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee may be forced to take extra security when they travel upcountry for hearings on the Constitution Amendment No 2 Bill 2017.

The committee, which is currently scrutinising the bill seeking to remove presidential age limits, drafted a plan to travel to North, West, Central, East and West Nile regions.

But according to the committee chairperson, Jacob Oboth-Oboth (West Budama South), due to the hostility presented by some sections of the public towards the bill, it is imperative that special security measures are taken to protect MPs.

The committee had planned for 15 police officers to accompany the legislators on their inland field trips.

Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee session

“If we need to go out to the field, we must consider the security of members of parliament. We shall put the request across to the authorities if there is need for us to go out. We cannot take anything for granted,” Oboth-Oboth told The Observer in an interview yesterday.

Following a directive by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga two weeks ago for MPs to carry out consultations, there has been a public backlash, especially against NRM MPs who support the removal of Article 102 (b) which provides for the 35 and 75-year age caps for presidential contestants.

President Museveni, who backs the removal, is 73 years old and would be ineligible to run again at the next election in 2021 if the cap is maintained.

The chairman said despite this, the committee will still hold its field meetings. The committee drafted a Shs 715 million budget to facilitate its meetings within and outside Uganda. According to the budget estimates yet to be approved by the Parliamentary Commission, Shs 227.2 million has been earmarked for internal field trips.

The committee is expected to spend Shs 45.4 million on each of the five regions. Oboth-Oboth explained that while funds will be provided for the internal trips, there is uncertainty on the Shs 399 million budgeted for the three countries where the committee had planned to visit for benchmarking.

“We shall consider the draft budget as we go. We have enough money for inland regional travels but we don’t have enough for the foreign travels,” he said.

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© 2016 Observer Media Ltd