Former FDC President, Dr. Kizza Besigye has described as treason the recent decision by Parliament to amend the constitution to remove Presidential age limits, and asked Ugandans to rise and challenge the ‘overthrow’ of the constitution.
Besigye said that the manner in which the amendments were passed was in gross violation of the constitution which qualifies the action by the ruling NRM as treason.
He highlighted as illegalities the attack on Parliament in September by unknown security operatives and the seizure by the House by the military similar to the events that transpired in 1962 when the constitution was abrogated.
According to Besigye, rules did not allow Raphael Magyezi to present the Bill as he did, given that it touched at the core of the constitution.
The opposition strongman also alluded to the harassment by the state towards the opposition during the consultations on the Age Limit Bill, which also saw a man shot dead in Rukungiri.
“This [process of amendments] can not be interpreted in any other way except that this was a violent overthrow of the constitution using the coercive,” Besigye told a press conference on Friday.
Citing Article 3 (Clause 2) of the 1995 constitution, Besigye stated that “an attempt to suspend, overthrow, abrogate or use violence to amend the constitution is treason”. He said all MPs who were involved in passing the Bill and the unknown security operatives that assaulted Parliament are accomplices to treason.
But the same constitution, he said, gives power to the citizens of Uganda to defend the supreme law at all times and to resist any person seeking to overthrow it.
“Defending the constitution is constitutional. And this can be done using all means including taking up guns. Even if Ugandan chose to take guns to restore the force of the constitution, they are within the law,” Besigye said.
“We invite the people of Uganda to do their duty seriously to restore the effect of this constitution so we can have peaceful transition. Every campaign that answers to this call is welcome.”
Besigye announced that the opposition is set to undertake “all ranges of actions” targeted to restore the sanctity of the constitution with effect from January 9, 2018.
While some have referred to the restoration of the Presidential term limits as a good trade off for the opposition, Besigye said they are worthless.
“You can’t use fraud to achieve a good. If Museveni gets 14 more years in power, what stops him from amending the constitution again to scrap the term limits? Once the sanctity of the constitution has been abrogated, provisions therein lose value,” he said.
Kampala Lord Mayor, Erias Lukwago who was present at the press conference on Friday also regarded the action by Parliament as treason which he said demands that Ugandans rise to the occasion.
“This is a very serious matter. Article 3 of the constitution is very instructive under such circumstances as it commands us to stand and fight,” he said.
The FDC President, Patrick Amuriat condemned the extension of the political tenure of MPs and other local government elected leaders to two more years which he said contravened with the law.
“Seven years for MPs is not tenable. The contract between the current MPs and their electorate is five years and an extension of this would be determined by an election, not a unilateral decision by Parliament,” Amuriat said.
He termed the 317 MPs who voted in favor of the Age Limit Bill as ‘a shame to this nation’ and the opposers as ‘heroes’.
Other members of the opposition including Conservative Party President, Ken Lukyamuzi, FDC Chairman, Wasswa Birigwa, JEEMA President Asuman Basalirwa, and former Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Wafula Ogutu also attended the press conference.