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Bribery allegations mar VP Ssekandi's age limit consultations

Vice president and Bukoto Central MP, Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi today kickstarted his consultations on the age limit bill in Masaka amidst allegations of bribery and coaching of selected rally attendees. 

Some residents had raised concern over the failure by Ssekandi to hold consultative meetings on the proposed constitutional amendment.

A group of voters in Kabonera, Kyesiga and Kyanamukaka sub-counties asked Mary Babirye Kabanda, the Masaka Woman MP to tell Ssekandi not to bother consulting them. They argued that their position on the bill is clear, they are opposed to scrapping of the presidential age limit, currently capped at 75 years.  

They instead asked Ssekandi and President Yoweri Museveni to retire from active politics since they both fall in the same age bracket.

Ssekandi arrives for the consultative meeting in Kyanamukaka

Nevertheless, Ssekandi went ahead to hold several consultative meetings. According to information obtained by URN, prior to his visit to Kyesiga and Kyanamukaka sub-counties, Ssekandi sent a team led by Mulindwa Birimumaaso, a senior presidential advisor to select and register those who would participate in the consultations.

The advance team met the selected individuals and briefed them on what to say during the consultative meetings.

The attendance list was allegedly used to screen those accessing the venue for the consultative meetings. Those whose names didn't appear on the list were turned away.

Paul Migadde, the former Kyanamukaka sub-county LCIII chairman alleges that those selected to participate in the consultations were told to support the proposed amendment.

Migadde says that when he questioned the criteria used to select participants he was told that only ruling party, NRM leaders in the constituency were invited for the consultations.

He says when he probed further, he was told they didn't want attendees who would embarrass President Museveni and his vice during the consultative meetings.

URN has also learnt that those who attended the consultations received between Shs 5000 and 50,000 depending on their leadership position.

Joseph Kazibwe, one of the NRM leaders who attended the consultations, says they were transported to the meeting venue at Mutima Gardens in Kyanamukaka sub-county. At least 450 people turned up for the consultations.

Kazibwe says each attendee received an allowance after the consultations. Speaking during the consultation meetings, Ssekandi defended the proposed scrapping of article 102 (b) of the constitution, saying there is nothing wrong with deleting the presidential age limit to allow President Museveni to extend his reign.

Ssekandi lashed out at Democratic Party members for fighting the proposed amendment, saying they are misguided.

© 2016 Observer Media Ltd