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Sunday, February 5, 2023

Museveni age limit case: EAC orders perennial litigant Mabirizi to apologize

Ugandan lawyer Hassan Male Mabirizi is in regional spotlight after the East African Community (EAC) rebuked him for using its emblem and judges’ photos on his fundraising poster.

The EAC officials say Mabirizi flouted sections 7 and 8 of the Community Emblems Act which prohibits the unauthorized use of community emblem.

Mabirizi would have sought permission from the council of ministers before using the emblem according to the Act.

Mabirizi has for months been soliciting money for his age limit petition in the regional East African Court of Justice (EACJ).

The petition arises from the controversial lifting, in 2017, of the presidential age limit clause.

The removal of article 102b from the Constitution is the reason Museveni, now aged 76, is contesting to extend his 35-year rule.

Mabirizi and opposition politicians challenged age limit removal in both the Constitutional Court and Supreme Court.

With both temples of justice upholding majority MPs’ decision to knock the age limit out of the constitution to allow Museveni, a former rebel leader, contest beyond the age of 75, Mabirizi ran to the EACJ.

To facilitate his petition and attendant costs, Mabirizi sought Shs394m from members of the public interested in the court case.

But the perennial litigant’s fundraising drive has earned him rebuke from the EAC.

“The East African Community has learnt with dismay the misuse of its emblem by a one Mr Male Mabirizi, a litigant in a manner before the East African Court of Justice,” wrote EAC Secretary General (SG) Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko.

“Mr Male Mabirizi is illegally using the community emblem and photographs of judges of EACJ to among others, raise funds for personal purposes.”

SG Mfumukeko also wants Mabirizi to apologize to Museveni for using the EAC emblem against him.

 “While the Community set up EACJ as a neutral arbiter for disputes between parties, it condemns the abuse of its emblem, misuse of photographs of the judges and the derogatory language that Mr Male Mabirizi has used against a sitting Head of State,” continues Mfumukeko.

“The Community further demands that Mr Male Mabirizi writes an apology to the Community and withdraws the said advert immediately.”

Mfumukeko says the EAC “is considering legal action” against Mabirizi.

If convicted, Mabirizi could spend up to three years behind bars or be fined $3,000 (about Shs11m).

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