12 December 2017

Uganda: Police On High Alert As Age Limit Debate Returns to Parliament

Photo: The Independent
A heated debate is expected in the Ugandan parliament (file photo).

Kampala — Police and "sister agencies" are on high alert as parliament resumes this week to receive and debate the constitutional amendment bill which intends to among many changes lift the age limit for the presidency.

"We are aware of the opposition's plan to stage violent activities around parliament," said Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Frank Mwesigwa on Monday, warning that they have intelligence reports of plans to burn petrol stations and cause chaos in the city over the age limit debate.

"Police are working with sister security agencies to counter this and allow democratic processes to take place," he said.

The much-anticipated debate on the removal of the presidential age limit returns on the floor of parliament on Tuesday following the completion of a report on consultations regarding the bill done by the legal and parliamentary affairs committee.

The majority report by the committee chaired by Jacob Oboth Both (West Budama) is expected to be tabled and debated before voting on the bill.

MPs opposed to the change in the age limit have promised to table a minority report.

"We have signed our report dissenting from the majority report. The reasons therein are very clear and will be known when it's presented on the floor of Parliament but using our established means, we believe the people of Uganda are 100% behind us," said Wilfred Nuwagaba, one of eight members on the committee opposing the lifting of the age limit.

The bill will proposes several changes, including lifting the age limit of 75 on the presidency, a move seen as a significant step towards securing a free run for President Yoweri Museveni to seek re-election in 2021.

When the motion first came up for debate in September, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga suspended 25 MPs for unruly behaviour, triggering chaos in the house.

Fighting ensued as plain-clothes security operatives stormed parliament to help throw out the suspended but defiant Members of Parliament (MPs). Several MPs were hospitalised and the Magyezi bill was thereafter presented to parliament for the first reading at the next session by mainly NRM MPs.

Speaker Kadaga has since written to President Museveni questioning the presence of security officers that she had little knowledge of.

The president is yet to respond but reports indicate that Police Gen Chief Kale Kayihura, Chief of Defence Forces Gen. David Muhoozi and Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda have all been involved in consultation with Kadaga to plan on security for the upcoming sessions.

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