The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) used its numerical strength in Parliament to vote in favour of amending article 102 (b) of the 1995 Constitution to remove the age-limits for anyone seeking to contest the presidency. 102(b) had barred anyone beyond 75years and below 35years from contesting for presidency. Museveni at 72, would have been ineligible to run in 2021.
317 NRM MPs voted in favour of the bill while 97 voted against the bill. Followng the vote however, which took place on the Second Reading of MP Rafael Magyezi’s Private members’ bill, the next steps will likely be a formality.
Debate as well as the Yes vote have left a bitter taste in the mouths of most Ugandans. According to two major opinion polls more than 80% of Ugandans opposed the constitutional amendment.
Following the victorious Yes vote, a few Parliamentarians were heard saying they will now mobilize to have their regions break away from Uganda.
Mukono municipality MP Betty Nambooze said the Yes vote cannot be taken as the last kick of the game as they will now amplify calls for break-away. Aswa County MP Reagan Okumu is another MP who has called for secession.
Many senior leaders both within the NRM as well as from the opposition described the amendment as a step in making President Yoweri Museveni into an emperor.
Voting was however preceded by dramatic scenes in which Police blocked two senior lawyers and opposition MPs Medern Sseggona and Wilfred Niwagaba from serving Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga with a court injunction summoning her to appear in person.