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MP Kiwanda regrets term limits bribe

Buganda parliamentary caucus chairman Godfrey Kiwanda has said he regrets having supported the removal of presidential term limits and plans to make amends by pushing for their restoration.

The Mityana North MP says he regrets taking the Shs 5m that was given to lawmakers in the Seventh Parliament back in 2005 to amend the constitution and remove presidential term limits.

Kiwanda says restoration of term limits will restore hope amongst Ugandans who have lost it.

“People have now resorted to demonstrations and other [violent] means, thinking that it is the only way they can change government. They have lost hope, and we have to restore this hope,” he said.

In 2005, the Seventh Parliament scrapped the two-term presidential limit to enable Museveni stand for re-election. Museveni’s NRM induced its legislators with Shs 5m apiece to vote in favour of the constitutional amendment. Looking back now, Kiwanda says taking that money was the worst thing he has done in his political career.

“I regret and apologise for whatever I did. We put our country in trouble by removing term limits,” he said.

The Buganda caucus chief made these remarks during a meeting held at Hotel Africana in Kampala this week where lawmakers pushing for the restoration of term limits had pitched camp to discuss the proposal with civil society representatives. Kiwanda joins a bunch of NRM MPs that have thrown their weight behind the campaign led by Gerald Karuhanga (Youth, Western).

Wilfred Niwagaba (Ndorwa East), Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga) and Abdu Katuntu (Bugweri) are the other lawmakers pushing for the amendment. Dokolo MP, Felix Okot Ogong, has also joined the group, vowing to end what he called “the nonsense of no terms in our politics.”

The idea remains thorny, with many NRM lawmakers preferring to sit on the fence and wait for fear of being misunderstood by Museveni. But Kiwanda has decided to come out, and more are expected to support the campaign, although the dominant NRM is likely to have the last word.

“We need a peaceful transition of power from one president to another,” Kiwanda said.

However, the President’s Press Secretary, Tamale Mirundi, says Kiwanda is trying to appeal to the voters with an eye on re-election in 2016. Tamale argues that Kiwanda is panicking because there is someone in Mityana North who is mobilising against him. On his part, Karuhanga said that Ugandans and investors had started to flee, taking their investments to other countries because the political future of the country is uncertain.

Karuhanga also revealed unconfirmed reports that Museveni harbours intentions of introducing another constitutional amendment to remove the age limit for the president that is currently at 75 years. Museveni will be 72 when the 2016 elections come along and therefore eligible to stand for president.

But according to the constitution, that would be his last term as the President would be 77 in 2021 when the next elections are to be held. Museveni told NTV this year that he believes there is good reason for the age limit and would thus not seek to change it.

dtlumu@observer.ug

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