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AGE LIMIT: The full story from in, and out of parliament

Students of Makerere University protest against the official procedure to scrap a presidential age limit from the constitution in Kampala on September 21, 2017. AFP PHOTO – Isaac Kasamani

Red headbands

In a show of solidarity Opposition MPs and some Independents pulled out red headbands which they wore as they sang the Uganda National anthem while marching out of parliament following the adjournment.

It brought to an end a dramatic Thursday had started with arrests, marches in Kampala and several places across the country despite Police chief Gen Kale Kayihura having banned any protests.

Police fired teargas at students who defied a police order banning protests as they demonstrated the proposed removal of presidential age limits.

Police on Wednesday had issued an order banning protests, but this was ignored by hundreds of students at the country’s main Makerere University.

The students were tear-gassed, chased and detained by armed officers in return.

The students in the capital Kampala waved branches and chanted “K’ogikwatako!” — meaning “Don’t dare touch it!” in the local Luganda language — in reference to the constitutional clause on age limits.

Armed officers — including military police — fired volleys of teargas forcing the students to flee to their residence halls and hostels.

Prominent opposition politicians were also detained or arrested on Thursday, including opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has lost four successive elections to Museveni. Also detained was Kampala Mayor Irias Lukwago.

Small protests also took place elsewhere in the capital and the country.

In the northern town of Lira, demonstrators left a mock coffin at a central road junction with “The removal of the presidential age limit is the death of our country” painted on the side.

On Wednesday evening Ugandan police raided the offices of a charity and a think tank which have publicly opposed the constitutional change.

US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac said Thursday she was “deeply concerned” by the situation.

“We call on the Government of Uganda to guarantee all its citizens freedom of speech, expression, and assembly, without fear of intimidation,” she said in a statement.

The day ended with events of the day on all the late night TV shows. Social media was also dominated by the highs and lows of the day, including an incident where MP Betty Nambooze tried to take off the cap of MP Abiriga in the middle of a live NTV show.

On NBS TV, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) has the required numbers to push through constitutional ammendments constitutionally, and it is a matter of time before the “Age Limit Motion” is tabled. He said he was confident it would be passed eventually.

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4 comments

  1. Anyone looking at the behaviour of the opposition would immediatley make a shallow analysis like Mr. Mwenda and say that the opposition is being unfair because NRM has the”right” to change the constitution. While this myopic assessment is delivered with finality that should cease all debate one has to realize that the chaos by opposition has deeper historical and issues in the status quo of Ugandan politics. First , in a situation where an oppressive an dbrutal regime refuses public expression by the opposition the only avenue left for FDC MPS is to make life hard for them in parliament. Why should anyone think that its ok for the M7 regime to cynically cite “security concerns” and brutally crash publlc resistance then expect that the MPs will be docile and cowed.
    whereas I agree that age limit and term limits is accepted in many countries , and should not be an issue in Uganda; we should remember that M7 shot his way to power in 1986 and has contnued to use the military and all manner of nefarious activities to stay in power. We all know in Uganda that the elections are anything but free and fair so to cynically tell MPs to campaign harder assumes that the electoral process in Uganda is free. The main concern with age limit is M7 has overstayed his welcome and we know that NRM will never allow to defeated at the polls. They choose the electoral commission , they choose the judges, they control police who are used to rig elections every 10 years. Therefore the framers of the 1995 constitution realized that Uganda is not like USA or UK. Uganda has a history of bad leaders wanting to over stay in power. It is interesting that only leaders in the world who forced their way into power seek to change the constitution. If M7 had set a solid foundation and vison for Uganda through the NRM party , then it would not matter even if he left power cause NRM would continue to pursue this vision. However we all know that NRM is held together by the cult of perosnality of M7. Therefore , yes the majority party has the right to change the law but a regime that has suppressed public freedoms and stole its way into power does not have that right and needs to be resisted by all means. After 35 years, anyone educated Ugandan can see for themselves that we need new ideas. I wil even hazard a guess that 70% of NRM mps are not iin because they believe in M7 ; they all just want personal gain and primitive accumulation of wealth and M7 is aware about this . M 7 has no friends just ask Kategaya, Mbabazi, Mayombo, Aronda, Mushega, etc etc…

  2. i thank m7 for his hard working,development and many other good works he did while on power as present for over 20 years, uplifting rural areas to urban areas i thank him so so much for and many people believe that am very right BUT if it is a rule that after the age limit mentioned above,there must be a change in leadership,so it is very important to follow and should be in a peaceful way .secondly as a leader we need to respect him and speak to him in a respectful way not in abusive language because some people has bad and hurting wards which is not good and will cause conflict among m7 and his supporters, and other opposition members.

    • mr. m7 only listens to you when you tell him pakalast otherwise you are his enermy. for God’s Shake M7’s Era Must Come To An End.

  3. u have publicly mentioned the appetite for money by some pipo in the media citing Andrew mwenda and most nrm mpz but what iz very clear iz DAT most ov thoze mpz will not return to in the 11th parliament due to denial and betrayal we shall not vote them back so let them continue milking m7 autocratic regime just like the owner of this news paper,when the independent had just started back in days it had many intellectual customer readers becoz it would report with equality but per now intellectual customer news paper buyers have shifted to other media y…..

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