Uganda Fires Teargas as Protests Build Against `Life Presidency’

KAMPALA (Capital Markets in Africa) – Ugandan police fired teargas and arrested students protesting at the capital’s main university, local media reported, as the ruling party prepares to propose a constitutional amendment that would allow President Yoweri Museveni to seek to extend his three-decade rule.

The police and army fought running battles with students at Kampala’s Makerere University on Thursday, the Observer newspaper said on its website. It also reported that police arrested the capital’s lord mayor and city councilors, sealed the offices of the main opposition party and quelled demonstrations in the northern town of Lira. Kampala police spokesman Emilian Kayima couldn’t immediately comment when contacted by Bloomberg.

Members of the ruling National Resistance Movement are backing a proposal to remove a clause in the East African nation’s constitution that sets an age limit of 75 for presidential candidates. Such a change, which must be debated in parliament and passed by a lawmakers’ vote before being implemented, would allow Museveni, 73, to run for re-election.

Some lawmakers opposed to the amendment plan were interrogated by police this week, the Daily Monitor newspaper reported, while the offices of two non-governmental organizations were searched by authorities on Wednesday, according to Chapter Four Uganda, a human-rights group.

The U.S., which has described Uganda as a key strategic partner, said it was “deeply concerned” by the arrests and raids. In a statement on the U.S. Embassy’s website, Ambassador Deborah Malac urged the government to guarantee “all its citizens freedom of speech, expression and assembly, without fear of intimidation.”

Museveni is one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders alongside Teodero Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Paul Biya of Cameroon and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. Uganda abolished a limit of two five-year terms in 2005, allowing Museveni, who first took power as a guerrilla leader, to prolong his rule. He won a disputed election in 2016, with the next vote due in 2021.

The opposition Forum for Democratic Change last week vowed to stage a nationwide campaign to block the amendment and stop Museveni attaining what it called a “life presidency” under a “constitutional dictatorship.”

Source: Bloomberg Business News


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