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Uganda postpones bill to extend Museveni's rule after protests

Uganda postpones bill to extend Museveni's rule after protests

Uganda

Ugandan authorities have postponed a bill to extend longtime leader Yoweri Museveni’s rule after protesters took to the streets against it on Thursday confronting police who fired teargas.

Groups of students at Makerere, a public university in the capital Kampala, had rallied to start marching toward parliament before police dispersed them and arrested some.

The move to amend the constitution has met widespread resistance from activists, civil-society organisations, religious leaders and even some members of Museveni’s own ruling party.

So that matter is not for today, but it's implications have been there, okay? So since there are two big problems which I have just enumerated, members are not willing to sit and the speaker also not willing to sit.

Parliament speaker Jacob Oulanyah told lawmakers during a raucous session that the legislation due to be introduced on Thursday afternoon was “bringing tension.”

“So that matter is not for today, but it’s implications have been there, okay? So since there are two big problems which I have just enumerated, members are not willing to sit and the speaker also not willing to sit, members who don’t want to sit. This house is adjourned to Tuesday 2 o’clock,” he said.

A Western ally who sent the Ugandan military to fight Islamist militants in Somalia, Museveni won plaudits in the early years of his rule for restoring stability after years of turmoil and for drawing foreign investment.

But rampant rights violations, entrenched graft and dysfunctional public services have since eroded his standing and fuelled opposition to his rule.

Museveni won plaudits in the early years of his rule for restoring stability after years of turmoil and for drawing foreign investment.

“We will not bow, we’ll stand the ground and then defend the constitution of the republic of Uganda. Even if he brings here ‘mambas’ (local term for anti-riot police tanks), whatever kind of ammunition we’ll defend our constitution and we are not going to allow him (Museveni),” said MP, Lutamaguzi Ssemakula.

The move to amend legislation mirrors similar tactics used in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic Congo to extend limits, a trend that has alarmed democracy watchdogs.

Police have also raided the premises of at least two pro-democracy organisations in Kampala, including that of the local unit of Johannesburg-based ActionAid International.

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