The parliament of the East African country has scrapped presidential age limit, paving the way for Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, to rule until 2037
The Ugandan parliament on Wednesday evening (20 December) voted to scrap presidential age limit which was formerly pegged at 75 years.
The controversial age limit bill was passed after going through the three legislative stages before being put to a final vote; 315 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted in favour, 62 against with 2 abstentions.
The bill has stoked lots of tension in parliament and across the country with MPs exchanging blows at least on three occasions during the debate.
Lawmakers also extended the terms of office for the president and the parliament from five years to seven years. The extension will take effect with the ongoing tenures which started in 2016 and is expected to end in 2023 instead of 2021.
Another big change that was passed into law relative to the presidency was the restoration of a two-term limit. It effectively means that President Yoweri Museveni (73) can have two more shots at the presidency staring from the next elections in 2023.
The next stage is for the amended portion of the constitution to be sent to Museveni for assent, which is regarded as a mere formality as he is the instigator of the constitutional changes.
Legislators who were opposed to the amendment have revealed that they will challenge the outcome of the parliamentary vote because the process of removing the age limit was fraudulent.
“We are going to challenge the process [in court]. We want to let Ugandans know that we played our part and now we are giving the ball to the Ugandans in a new campaign K’ogikutteko,” the leader of opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kizza said while addressing journalists in Kampala.
The legislators say they warned the speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga about the illegality of the parliamentary process, but it was all in vain.
Museveni has been president of Uganda since 29 January 1986. He was involved in rebellions that toppled Ugandan leaders Idi Amin (1971–79) and Milton Obote (1980–85). In the mid to late 1990s, Museveni was celebrated by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders.
During Museveni’s presidency Uganda has experienced relative stability and economic growth. His presidency has been marred, however, by involvement in the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other Great Lakes region conflicts, which cause the death of more than 5 million people.
Kola Tella with agencies