Caribbean and Africans overwhelmingly Reject Resolution on Presidential Term Limits
By Godfrey Olukya 22-12-2016
A motion for a resolution on constitutional limits on presidential terms has been rejected after the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries overwhelmingly voted against it.
The vote on the motion was taken Wednesday 21st December 2016 during the plenary of the 32nd ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly that closes today.
The decision on the resolution comes following lengthy meetings of the Committees of Political Affairs of both the ACP and the European Union, which debated the reports in separate and joint meetings during the session of the assembly that has been meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 14th December 2106.
The proposals for presidential terms limits were being advocated by Members of the European Union Parliament with support from some Members from the ACP.
During the course of the Committee meetings, there were heated debates on whether the European Parliament should dictate on the way sovereign countries should govern themselves.
Before the final vote on the motion, the ACP group met to harmonize its position with several members calling for the dropping of the motion altogether citing interference from the EU Parliament.
The Deputy Speaker, Rt. Hon. Jacob Oulanyah, who has been strongly opposed to the motion citing sovereignty of countries, said that when the vote was taken at committee level, the ACP was not properly constituted and therefore lost the vote.
“We did not have numbers at the committee level; we now have the opportunity at joint assembly. The European side has brought back some amendments, which we rejected at the committee. Let us defeat the whole resolution,” Oulanyah said.
Hon. Tulia Ackson from Tanzania, who was the co-rapporteur for the Committee on Political Affairs, said that it would be unfortunate that the whole resolution would be voted down but added that the ACP agrees with the will of the people.
“Constitutions must be respected but these same constitutions can also be changed by the same people,” she added.
The delegates from Mali, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde expressed reservation on the decision that was agreed on wondering why there was a change in position at plenary yet they had voted differently at committee level. They said that this was unprecedented in the ACP and would cause a rift among the members.
Hon. Fitz Jackson (Jamaica), who chaired the ACP caucus, called for cooperation and reconciliation among the ACP countries urging members not to be divided.
“The last thing we want is refusing to support each other. If we don’t cooperate with colleagues today, we may not have support of the group next time,” he urged.
The co-president of the Joint Parliamentary Assembly, Netty Baldeh, from Gambia then put the matter to vote and 18 countries agreed to vote against the resolution with nine promising to vote for.
The motion for a resolution on constitutional limits on presidential terms was tabled in Brussels in December 2015.
The Parliament of Uganda delegation to the ACP-EU meet in Nairobi also had Hon. Cecilia Ogwal (Dokolo), Hon. Juliet Kinyamatama (Rakai), Hon. Wamanga-Wamai (Mbale Municipality) and Hon. William Nokorach (PWDs).