KAMPALA (Reuters) - A move to change Uganda’s constitution to allow ageing President Yoweri Museveni to rule beyond the current age limit provoked rowdy scenes in parliament on Monday in which six legislators were ejected from the chamber.
Museveni, 73, has ruled the east African country for 31 years. With the constitution capping the age of a presidential candidate at below 75 years, he would be barred from standing again as president in 2021.
Parliament on Monday began debating a bill, presented by a Museveni loyalist, that proposes removing the age cap, something which opposition activists and rights groups say opens the door for him to be president for life.
Religious leaders and even some MPs from Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) party have criticised the proposed bill.
After rowdy scenes, six lawmakers were suspended for a single session and ordered out of the chamber for “undermining the authority of the speaker [and] undermining decorum in the house,” parliament spokesman Chris Obore told Reuters.
The MPs had heckled speaker Rebecca Kadaga and ignored her orders to be seated, Obore said.
The debate was expected to continue through Monday and Tuesday.
In late September lawmakers brawled in parliament for two consecutive days as MPs opposed to the bill unsuccessfully tried to filibuster it.
At least 25 MPs opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment to prolong Museveni’s tenure were forcibly ejected on orders of the speaker for involvement in fighting.
Museveni initially won broad international support for his embrace of market economics and restoring political order after years of turmoil in the east African country.
But in recent years he has come under a growing spotlight for a range of rights violations, corruption and his unwillingness to give up power.
Editing by Richard Balmforth