Ugandan MPs Brawl During Presidential Age-Limit Debate

Protests in Ugandan Parliament Due to Motion on Terms of Office

Yesterday, for the second time in less than six days, parliament was prematurely adjourned as the ruling party MPs attempted to smuggle onto the Order Paper a motion by Igara West MP, Raphael Magyezi seeking leave to table a bill on the lifting of presidential age limits.

At least 25 MPs opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment were ejected.

Museveni, who is 73 and has ruled Uganda since 1986, is ineligible to run again in 2021 if the age barrier stays.

Reports say the fiercely disputed move has seen lawmakers exchange blows and kicks, with some using microphone stands as crude weapons in the melee.

Museveni, who has been at the helm of the country since 1986 and is credited with restoring peace and stability to the African nation, won re-election previous year in a poll marred by allegations of vote fraud and intimidation by security forces.

Live broadcasts of the parliamentary proceedings were suspended by media regulatory body the Uganda Communications Commission prompting an outcry from rights group Amnesty International.

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Uganda's ruling party enjoys an overwhelming majority in the national assembly and the bill is expected to pass. Removing the age cap would clear that hurdle.

The proposal, echoing steps by other veteran African leaders to void legal limits on their rule, has stirred widespread resistance from rights activists, opposition parties, religious leaders and even some members of Museveni's party.

Critics said the authorities' action to ban live broadcasts underscored a crackdown on anyone questioning the planned constitutional amendment.

Nineteen people including Uganda's leading opposition figure, Kizza Besigye, were also arrested.

Robert Ssempala, the national coordinator for Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda, told Reuters that cracking down on live broadcasts was meant to "shut out Ugandans and keep them in the dark on the age limit debate".

Local media reported protests against the legislative measure also broke out in other parts of Uganda.

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