Democratic Party president general Norbert Mao late last evening made an impassioned presentation in parliament, imploring the House committee looking at the age limit bill to stand with the people.
Mao appeared hours after Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda had found himself on the back-foot defending police brutality against the opposition.
He declared that the Igara West MP Raphael Magyezi private member’s bill is a creature of the 10th parliament which must be immediately withdrawn since “the people of Uganda have already expressed their discontent with it.”
“There is a trial in parliament… The accused is the Constitution. It stands accused of standing in the way of one man’s despotic ambitions,” he said.
“The chief complainant is President Yoweri Museveni … Leading the defence team is Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza, marching at the head of a small army representing multitudes out there who have hitherto suffered silently, but have suddenly found their voice and have become increasingly loud and agitated. Those are the people you see wearing red ribbons.”
Mao said when his party launched the ‘Kogikwatako (should you dare touch it)’ campaign, the people responded unequivocally, telling MPs: ‘Togikwatako (don’t touch it)’.
“This campaign unleashed an electrical current of popular resistance aimed at opposing the removal of the last constitutional safeguard against life presidency. A great purpose is unfolding among the people. The expression of this purpose may at first appear hostile but in reality it is revitalising and renewing our resolve to rise above our past.”
Mao said: “We are here as witnesses for the defence … We do not deny the charges levelled against our noble Constitution. The constitution stands guilty as charged because the intention of its framers was precisely what it was accused of, namely; to limit power, stand in the path of anyone with despotic ambitions and immunise our motherland against the epidemic of violence and unconstitutional changes of government."
During the morning session, MPs Muhammad Nsereko, Wilfred Niwagaba, and Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda had asked Dr Rugunda to say why the police keeps beating up and firing tear gas and live bullets at the opposition.
Ever the pacifist, Rugunda said everyone should avoid provocation.
“I agree with Hon Nsereko that the police are for all Ugandans and there should be fairness… to ensure that all Ugandans are enjoying their constitutional rights,” he said.
Rugunda also denied that article 102(b) had been smuggled into the Constitution as insinuated by NRM’s deputy secretary general Richard Todwong last week.