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HOW MABIRIZI FLOORED MUSEVENI IN ROUND TWO OF ARUSHA AGE LIMIT CASE, PAVING WAY FOR ‘SHOCKER’

By Mulengera reporter

Regional East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has made its second decision in lawyer Male Mabirizi’s application challenging the removal of the presidential age limit.

Weeks ago, a five-judge bench comprising Justice Monica Mugenyi, Deputy Principal Judge Justice Faustin Ntezilayo, Justice Audace Ngiye, Justice Charles Nyawello and Justice Charles Nyachae declined to grant Mabirizi’s prayer to block Uganda’s 2021 election roadmap as announced by the Electoral Commission.

The judges agreed that delaying Uganda’s elections would create uncertainty.“It is clear that the electoral timetable is quite constrained and to halt any part of it for any length of time would certainly throw the electoral cycle into disarray with obvious political, social and economic not to mention constitutional ramifications,” ruled the judges at the start of February.

A fortnight after the ruling, the judges have made another decision on the case filed in May 2019, two months after the Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional Court judgement that Parliament had constitutionally hewed the age limit clause off Uganda’s Constitution.

The EACJ bench ruled on Attorney General (AG) ’s assertion that the court did not have the jurisdiction to decide on a matter relevant courts in Uganda, a member state of the East African Community (EACJ) had pronounced themselves on.

But the judges ruled that the regional community’s temple of justice had the jurisdiction to determine the matter raised by Mabirizi. In their previous determination, the judges agreed Mabirizi’s application needed to be fast-tracked.

“We take the view that the judicious and expeditious determination of the substantive reference would redress the applicant’s [Mabirizi’s] concerns about the legality of the impugned law viz a viz the treaty,” said the judges.

Mabirizi accuses the Ugandan State of flouting the EAC Treaty, especially the principles of good governance, democracy, rule of law, social justice and human rights, and the allegations relate to the circumstances before, during and after the removal of the age limit.

AG Byaruhanga, the head of the State’s legal team, insists “Mabirizi’s application is frivolous and vexatious.”

But as the Court moves to determine if Uganda violated relevant terms of the regional Treaty, Byaruhanga and his boss Museveni could be in for a shocker months to the general elections in which the president seeks to extends his 34-year rule.

Mabirizi, somewhat frowned upon by some in the government’s legal team, could secure some vital orders that could further soil Museveni’s record regarding the principles of good governance, democracy, rule of law, social justice and human rights.

Although Mabirizi may unlikely see Museveni off the 2021 presidential election ballot, the lawyer could make the president start taking him seriously, and his application could open a new pandora’s box in the relationship between government and the EACJ.

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