It is now official that ruling NRM MPs are behind the move to have Uganda’s three-decade president rule for life after they passed a motion to push for the deletion of article 102b that bars all those above the age of 75 from contesting for president.
Born in 1944 and in power since 1986, President Yoweri Museveni will be over 75 when Uganda next goes to the polls in 2021.
But 245 of 246 NRM MPs on Tuesday resolved to start a process of removing the age limit clause, the only stumbling block between Museveni and life presidency similar to that of Zimbabwean nonagenarian Robert Mugabe.
Only Kumi Woman MP Monica Amoding dissented.
The MPs led by Igara West’s Raphael Magyezi, the lead mobiliser for Tuesday’s meeting, claimed they had consulted their constituents. But reactions from Igara West and other constituencies indicated otherwise.
The meeting was also attended by ministers. They included: Adolf Message (Defense and Veterans Affairs), Karoro Okurut (General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister), Ronald Kibule of Water and Galabuzi Soozi (Luweero Triangle) and State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatization Evelyn Anite.
Minister Mwesige said Article 102(b) contradicted the constitutional virtue of equality and democracy, arguing that the voters have the power to vote or vote out someone they think is the right leader, regardless of age.
But Tuesday’s overwhelming endorsement of age limit removal proposal does not mean that the age limit has been removed, although chances are high that it will be removed – unless NRM MPs change their minds.
The NRM MPs will now have to deal with an opposition and the population. It appears that majority of the Ugandan elite want a Museveni retirement – not a life presidency. Indeed many took to social media to hurl insults at the NRM MPs for their move.
Public opinion aside, the NRM has the numbers and will easily have their way – like they did in 2005 when the term limit clause was deleted to allow Museveni contest at the end of his two terms.
For now, the MPs have resolved to table a private members bill in parliament seeking to amend Article 102(b) of the 1995 Constitution.
The motion to move this bill will be tabled on Thursday.
The MPs will then seek leave of parliament to present the private members bill.