Uganda's top court upholds ruling to remove presidential age caps

Thursday April 18 2019

Uganda Supreme court judges presiding over the age limit appeal case in Kampala on April 18, 2019. The judges upheld decision to scrap presidential age limits in a 4-3 verdict, paving the way for Yoweri Museveni to seek a sixth term in office. PHOTO | MORGAN MBABAZI | NMG

Uganda's top court Thursday upheld a decision to scrap presidential age limits, paving the way for the country's 74-year-old leader, Yoweri Museveni, to seek a sixth term in office.

The Supreme Court dismissed a challenge by Museveni's opponents, who had appealed against a ruling by the constitutional court that removed an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders.

"This appeal therefore fails," Chief Justice Bart Katureebe declared in handing down the court's majority 4-3 verdict.

A two-term limit was scrapped in 2005 to allow him to stand for office again. He went on to win a fifth term in the 2016 elections.

In December 2017, a bill was signed to abolish age limits for presidential candidates, allowing Museveni—who has ruled since 1986—to seek re-election in polls due in 2021.

That decision sparked protests and an outcry from the opposition, which accused the president of seeking to rule for life.


The constitutional court upheld the amendment in a ruling in July last year.

In January, the Supreme Court began hearing an appeal by opposition petitioners who unsuccessfully argued the earlier ruling was unconstitutional.

Museveni once said leaders who "overstayed" were the root of Africa's problems.

However, while running for a fifth term in 2016, he said it was not the right time for him to leave, as he still had work to do.

In February, the ruling party endorsed Museveni as its candidate for 2021.

He is the only president most Ugandans have known in a country where the median age is less than 16.

Additional reporting by BBC