Uganda: Stop clampdown on supporters of presidential age limit

The Ugandan authorities must end their absurd attempts to silence people opposed to scrapping the presidential age limit, said Amnesty International today, as a motion on the controversial proposal was brought to parliament.

Earlier today the mayor of the country’s capital, Kampala, was arrested by the police and bundled into a pick-up truck outside his home on suspicion that he was headed to a protest against the proposed change.

Some opposition MPs were blocked from accessing parliament to participate in the debate, which has now been postponed. Demonstrations against the change were also banned.

“It is ironic and absurd that as the bill is tabled in parliament, the government is blocking citizens from debating the issue,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.

All Ugandans must be allowed to freely express their views for or against issues of national importance to them
Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International's Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes

“All Ugandans must be allowed to freely express their views for or against issues of national importance to them. The actions the government is taking in this case amount to criminalizing dissent and contravene both Ugandan and international law.”

The Executive Director of the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS), a policy think-tank, who has spoken out against the proposal, was detained in his office for most of the day today following an overnight police siege there. ActionAid, an international NGO that works to combat poverty and injustice, was also raided on the same grounds.

“These raids are simply desperate attempts to harass and intimidate civil society organizations,” said Michelle Kagari.

“The authorities must stop these raids immediately and ensure that all confiscated materials are returned.”

The ruling party wants to amend the constitution to remove the presidential age limit of 75 years of age. The move is widely seen as a way of allowing incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, 73, to stand for President again in 2021.