International rights group, Human Rights Watch (HRW), says Uganda is gradually sliding into a state where elections are held but to ensure that the same politicians remain in power.
Their position comes on the back of the arrest of 25 women who gathered in the capital Kampala, to present a petition to the speaker of parliament. The petition was to oppose a proposed scrap on age limits for judges and term limits for top election officials.
According to political watchers in the East African country, the current move is likely to result in scrapping term limits off the presidency. A situation that would allow incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to stay in power beyond 2021.
Repression shouldn’t become the norm ... Everyone should have the freedom to peacefully gather and express their views, free from government intimidation and arrest.
‘‘Repression shouldn’t become the norm as debates about constitutional amendments percolate in Uganda. Everyone should have the freedom to peacefully gather and express their views, free from government intimidation and arrest.
‘‘Violating these women’s rights to free assembly is just the most recent sign of Uganda’s slide towards becoming an electoral dictatorship – where elections occur but “recycle political elites and bestow on them a degree of legitimacy,” Maria Burnett, a senior researcher with HRW’s Africa division wrote.
The Ugandan police detained the women who were all clad in white clothes – ostensibly to show the peaceful nature of their protest. They were subsequently released without charges.
Women activists demonstrating against age limits arrested at National theatre pic.twitter.com/JNyNlTO2Lm— NTV UGANDA (@ntvuganda) September 13, 2016
Why Museveni cannot be in power beyond 2021
President Museveni has been in office for the past three decades (since 1986).
He was involved in the uprisings that toppled Idi Amin (1971-1974) and Milton Obote (1980-1985)
Uganda agreed to open the political space in 1995 and first polls were held in 1996
He cannot run for president again in 2021, unless presidential age limits in the constitution are scrapped.
He has won all electons since the first in 1996.
First term (1996-2001)
Second term (2001-2006)
Third term (2006-2011)
Fourth term (2011-2016)
Fifth term (2016-2021)
Born in 1944, Museveni will be 77 by the next election in 2021 and thus ineligible to stand because of age limits. The current retirement age for judges and top electoral officers is 75.