KAMPALA – Ugandans have reacted angrily to the passing of a law that could enable President Yoweri Museveni, 73, who has been in power since 1986, to rule the East African country until 2031.
The anger followed the removal of a controversial bill – preventing anyone younger than 35 or older than 75 from holding the presidency – late on Wednesday by Ugandan lawmakers, which paves the way for Museveni to stand again in the 2021 election, AP reports.
“It is a dark day and a backward move toward disaster,” said Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a political historian at Uganda’s Makerere University. “I don’t see anything positive in that.”
Prior to the bill’s removal, lawmakers argued that the age barrier discriminated against the elderly.
However, political opponents and critics, including parliamentarians who wore red bandanas to show their opposition to the move, claimed that the measure was part of the Ugandan president’s plan to rule the East African country for life.
Uganda is just one of many African countries whose leaders have attempted to endlessly prolong their time in office.
At least 10 other countries on the continent have seen term-limits drop and leaders in more than 20 countries effectively do not face restrictions on their time in power,” according to the US-funded African Centre for Strategic Studies.
Museveni once said he despised African leaders who want to overstay in power but now says he referred to those who ruled without being elected.
In September there were heated discussions over the bill in the parliament, in the capital Kampala, some of which degenerated into physical brawls with chairs being thrown and some MPs being frog-marched out of the building by security.
– African News Agency (ANA)