Ugandan opposition block bill to scrap Presidential age limit

September 22, 2017 Africa , News , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Gloria Nakiyimba

 

Opposition Members of Parliament in Uganda have blocked a planned move by the ruling National Resistance Movement-NRM party to table a private member’s bill seeking to scrap the presidential age limit from the Constitution.

The NRM with majority seats in parliament were planning to debate the lifting of the age limit but the debate was blocked by opposition MPs who chanted slogans protesting the tampering with Article 102 (b) of the constitution which stipulates that for one to become president he must be between 35-75 years of age.

The opposition is concerned that the NRM want to use their numerical strength in parliament to remove the age limit in order to allow President Yoweri Museveni to rule Uganda for life.

Legislators were heard singing the first stanza of the national anthem while others used hand held bells and blew whistles throwing parliament into chaos as they blocked debate from taking place. This forced the Deputy speaker of Parliament Jacob Oulanya, who was presiding over business, to defer the debate to Tuesday next week.

They also donned red head bandanas and armbands in a united show of protest against lifting the presidential age limit in an ongoing campaign dubbed “KOGIKWATO,” loosely translated as “don’t dare tamper with it,” in reference to Article 102 (b).

“The red bandanas symbolize blood. We are ready to shed the blood defending the constitution. There will be blood in parliament if they attempt to amend Article 102(b)” said Maracha MP James Acidiri.

He noted that the constitution must remain intact adding that Article 102 (b) is the only avenue to ensure peaceful transfer of power without shedding blood.

“This bill not stand the test of time in parliament” he added.

Obongi county representative Hassan Kaps Fungaroo noted that the red bandanas symbolized danger and bloodshed after parliament was placed under what he called a military siege because the unusually heavy deployment of the military at the premises ahead of the Thursday plenary session where debate on lifting age limit was expected to take center stage.

 

On Thursday parliament was surrounded by police and the military ahead of the debate. Parliament spokesperson Chris Obore defended the deployment saying it was for the security of MPs and workers at parliament after getting information alleging that some people were threatening to burn parliament.

Early on Thursday, Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago was arrested for allegedly mobilizing the public to go on the streets to protest the lifting of the age limit by the NRM legislators in Parliament.

Norbert Mao, the opposition Democratic Party president, was arrested as he attempted to access parliament with placards with writings protesting the proposed amendment of the Article 102 (b) of the constitution to remove presidential age limit.

Also arrested is Forum for Democratic Change secretary for mobilization Ingrid Turinawe, and FDC councillor Doreen Nyanjura.

A total of 30 students from Makerere University in Kampala were also arrested in connection with the protests against amending the constitution to get rid of the age limit. Four students from Makerere were shot and injured in the running battles with police as it blocked them from proceeding with a planned match on Parliament to protest the proposed amendment.

Police were earlier deployed heavily in Kampala ahead of the debate following reports that members of the opposition were planning to stage protest and banned processions in the city.

Last week President Museveni referred to legislators routing for the removal of the age limit as “idlers.”

 

 

 

 

Gloria Nakiyimba

Gloria has experience spanning more than five years in Journalism, particularly in field reporting, editing, newscasting and management. She is currently working with Capital Radio Limited [91.3 Capital FM and 96.3 Beat FM] as Head of News, a position she has held since 2010.

Gloria previously worked as the Kampala Correspondent for Radio France International [RFI] generating local story leads with international inference for RFI’s global audience. She also served as Political Editor for The Weekly Mail Newspaper as well as Online Content Editor for the California based Ugandan broadcasterKubutakaRadio.com.

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