Uganda's Yoweri Museveni has signed into law a bill removing presidential age limits, a spokesman said Tuesday, clearing the way for the 73-year-old's expected sixth run at the presidency in 2021.
The controversial constitutional amendment removes the age limit of 75 years imposed on presidential candidates and was pushed through by ruling party MPs last month. It was signed by Museveni on December 27 but not publicly acknowledged until now.
"The president assented to the bill and it is now law," said press secretary Don Wanyama.
"The previous law was discriminatory in nature but this has been dealt with for the good of Ugandans."
The amendment reimposes a two-term limit on the presidency scrapped by ruling party MPs in 2005 allowing Museveni, in power since 1986, to run for a third, fourth and fifth term in elections widely criticised as being unfair.
Wanyama dismissed the notion that the law was tailored to allow Museveni's sixth term as "speculative".
But veteran opposition leader Kizza Besigye described the law change as part of "a well-orchestrated plan to have Museveni rule for life".
In his new year address on Sunday, President Yoweri Museveni saluted the Members of Parliament (MPs) that supported the 'Age Limit' Bill.
"I want to salute the 317 MPs who defied intimidation, malignment and blackmail and opted for a flexible constitution to deal with the destiny issues of Africa instead of maintaining Uganda on the path of unimaginative, non-ideological, neo-colonial status quo ," he said as he concluded his new year address on Sunday that covered issues related to security, economy, integration, Africa and the Congo.
"By so doing, they enabled us to avoid the more complicated paths that would have been required," he added.
The Constitution Amendment Bill 2017 was in the week before Christmas passed with the requried two-thirds majority. The vote result was 317 yes, 97 no.
The MPs passed the tenure of parliament to be extended from five to seven years. The MPs approved a 7-year term for Parliament and local governments positions starting with ongoing term.
This was quickly followed by approval of article 102 (b), lifting the age limit of 75 for one to contest for presidency.
Finally the House reinstated the presidential terms in the constitution by passing clause 105 of the Bill. The clause states that, "A person shall not hold office as President for more than two terms."
Report on the Uganda Constitution Amendment(No.2) Bill, 2017 by The Independent Magazine on Scribd