One killed as Uganda bans protests over presidential age limit bill

Police fired bullets and teargas to disperse opposition supporters.

People duck under a table after police used teargas and rubber bullets to scattered a protest against removing presidential age limits in Kampala, Uganda, on October 17, 2017. PHOTO | AFP 

IN SUMMARY

  • The security forces have in recent days broken up rallies called to oppose plans seen to extend President Yoweri Museveni’s rule after 2021 when his current fifth-term expires.
  • Uganda’s assistant inspector general of police, Assuman Mugenyi, in statement Wednesday, banned what he termed as “illegal demonstrations and processions”.
  • The Constitution currently sets an age limit for presidential candidates at 75, blocking President Museveni, 73, from running for a sixth consecutive term in 2021.

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At least one person died and several others were injured on Wednesday after Uganda police fired bullets and teargas at opposition supporters at a rally against the lifting of presidential age limits.

The security forces have in recent days broken up rallies called to oppose plans seen to extend President Yoweri Museveni’s rule after 2021 when his current fifth-term expires.

A Bill removing the age limit for the president was introduced in parliament last month, and MPs are currently holding consultations with ordinary Ugandans to seek their views.

Uganda’s assistant inspector general of police, Assuman Mugenyi, in statement Wednesday, banned what he termed as “illegal demonstrations and processions”.

He ordered the police to ensure MPs only hold consultations in their respective constituencies.

Police deputy spokesperson Polly Namaye said one person died after officers fired bullets in the air to disperse a crowd gathering near a stadium in the southwestern town of Rukungiri.

According to Ms Namaye, some opposition supporters pelted officers with stones and also smashed the windscreen of a police vehicle.

In the melee that ensued, a bullet is said to have also struck the vehicle carrying opposition leader Kizza Besigye. He was unhurt.

The police said the rally at Rukungiri stadium was illegal as the authorities had not been notified.

In Uganda, opposition demonstrations are routinely denied permission, meaning any rally is considered illegal.

The Constitution currently sets an age limit for presidential candidates at 75, blocking President Museveni, 73, from running for a sixth consecutive term in 2021.

Rights organisations and activists have criticised moves by several other long-serving African rulers, notably in Rwanda, Burundi and Burkina Faso, to stay in power by extending term limits.

President Museveni met MPs from his ruling NRM party backing the age caps removal last week and for the first time openly expressed his support for the legislation.

-Reporting by The EastAfrican, Reuters and AFP.

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