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Uganda Politics: Speaker suspends six opposition lawmakers over presidential age limit

 

Ugandan lawmakers had heated arguments and traded insults during a parliamentary session about a draft bill that seeks to remove the country’s presidential age limit.

The legislation would allow Uganda’s long-time President, Yoweri Museveni, to run again by removing a clause that prevents candidates older than 75 from running for president.

Museveni, 73, has been in power since 1986 and is not eligible under current law to stand for president at the end of his term in 2021.

Parliamentary speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, suspended several opposition legislators who refused to sit down and lower their voices.

The atmosphere was tense elsewhere in Kampala, with anti-riot and military police deployed at key points throughout the capital and heavy police patrols near parliament.

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Thousands of residents had come out onto the streets, wearing red to signal their allegiance to the opposition’s demands to keep the age limit.

Parliament broke out in brawls for two consecutive days in September when legislators decided whether the bill would be drafted.

The bill could be put to a vote later this week and is likely to pass when it does: Two-thirds of the 451-member chambers are members of the ruling party.

Ms. Kadaga suspended six opposition legislators over their conduct during the debate on the vote to remove the presidential age limit.

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She suspended opposition Chief Whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju, and his colleagues, Mubarak Munyagwa, Allan Ssewanyana, Anthony Akol, David Odur and Gerald Karuhanga for alleged heckling and disruptions.

They were also accused of protesting to prevent the tabling of the Constitutional amendment bill to amend Article 102 (b) to remove the presidential age limit of 75 years.

“These members have been suspended and will not attend the next plenary sittings,” said Kadaga on Monday.

Rachael Magyezi, the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) legislator and Jacob Oboth, chairperson of the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs committee on Monday moved and tabled the constitutional amendment bill to allow legislators to debate and vote on the bill amid high tensions and heavy security.

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Mr. Oboth tabled his committee members’ majority and minority reports in support and against the removal of presidential age limit before parliament.

The legislators are expected to debate and complete the voting on the bill before they break off for the festive holiday recess this week.

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