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East African Court dismisses with costs Uganda age limit case

The East African Court of Justice has dismissed with costs the consolidated case filed by seven opposition politicians and activists challenging the removal of the age limit law from Uganda's constitution.

Winfred Kiiza the Kasese District Woman MP, John Baptist Nambeshe Manjiya County MP, Gerald Karuhanga, Ntungamo Municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, Kira Municipality MP, Betty Nambooze Mukono Municipality MP, Alice Asianut Alaso, former Woman MP for Serere District and women's rights activist Irene Ovonji Odida went to court to challenge the controversial amendment. 

A panel of three judges of the East African Court of Justice led by principal judge Monica Mugenyi, Dr Peter Nyawello and Charles Nyachae dismissed the matter on Tuesday after two lawyers Nelson Ndeki and Don Deya representing the seven petitioners, told the court that they were not willing to proceed with the case.  

Deya told the court that they were withdrawing from the case because their clients did not give them further instructions to proceed with the case and neither have they filed any evidence to the court.

As a result, the attorney general of Uganda, William Byaruhanga and another petitioner, Male Mabirizi asked the judges to dismiss the case on grounds that the other petitioners had still failed to meet the February 2020 deadline that was given to them to file submissions.

They added that despite the failure to meet the deadline, there is nothing that was ever filed since then to show that the politicians are still interested in the matter. However, Mabirizi disagreed with the attorney general on dismissing the cases with costs, arguing that it was a matter of public interest. 

The East African Court of Justice dismissed the age limit case via videoconferencing  
But the justices dismissed the case with costs via videoconferencing citing that the people should not be using courts to pile up cases they will not handle up to the end while using public interest as an excuse.   

The petitioners had earlier argued that several actions, directives and decisions of all the three organs of the government of Uganda in conceptualizing, processing and upholding the removal of the 75-year age limit were unlawful.

They argued that several of the actions infringed on some provisions of the East African Community where Uganda is a signatory. For instance, they faulted parliament for scrapping the age limit law without consulting Ugandans as provided for by the constitution. They added that process leading to the amendment of the constitution was marred by irregularities such as bribery of legislators and violence in parliament.

They also faulted the executive arm of government led by President Yoweri Museveni for assenting to the bill without verifying that there was a certificate of compliance accompanying it. The petitioners first petitioned the Constitutional and Supreme courts which upheld the law saying it had been passed within the conformity of the law. 

This now leaves Mabirizi as the only person challenging the removal of the age limit law in the same court.

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