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Uganda: lawyers challenge removal of presidential age limit

PICTURED: Yoweri Museveni, president of Uganda

LAWYERS OPPOSING a change to Uganda’s constitutional amendment that will remove the age limit for presidents have headed to court today.

Those opposing the policy change claim that parliament have failed to adhere to the correct procedures in passing the amendment and that it was “smuggled” into law.

Members of Uganda’s parliament voted to axe the age limit of 75 for presidents last year.

Male Mabirizi Kiwanuka, a lawyer opposing the amendment, says that every MP should be given the opportunity to debate the bill. Only 124 out of 451 legislators did so. The result of the vote was overwhelmingly in favour of the change – 317 politicians voted in favour and 97 against.

As a result of the vote, 73-year-old Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s current president, would be eligible to campaign for re-election in 2021, something that would have previously been prohibited. Museveni has already been in power for more than 30 years.

The law change would also enable anyone above 75 from running for president and could lead to “lifetime leaders”.

Crispy Kaheru, the coordinator of the Citizens' Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda, a coalition of over 800 civil society organisations, said the law was passed “against the wishes of majority of Ugandans”.

The abolition of a two-term limit in 2005 enabled Museveni to run for office again.

Museveni, one of the longest-serving leaders in Africa, was elected to serve a fifth term in 2016. The elections were overshadowed by allegations of rigging.

The petition opposing the removal of presidential age limits is taking place in the high court in Mbale.

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