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22 Sep 2017

Tension as Police Arrest Opposition Members Ahead of Vote on Age Limit Bill

The ruling party in Uganda has been accused of orchestrating a total clampdown on dissenters ahead of a proposed age limit bill.

Ugandan police on Thursday arrested opposition politicians, shuttered Non-Governmental Organisations and broke up protests, as parliament prepared to introduce controversial bill on presidential age limit.

A member of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change, Wilberforce Kyambadde, told newsmen that the country’s main opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, was detained at his home, while Kampala Mayor Erias Lukwago was also arrested.

He said police had also arrested Moses Kasibante, an opposition member of parliament, and that FDC offices had been sealed by authorities.

Meanwhile, people who had been trying to get to the offices were dispersed with tear gas. Kyambadde said “Dr Besigye’s home is surrounded and he cannot get out. There are many other opposition people who have been arrested but we do not have the total figures.”

Report says ruling party legislator Raphael Magezi is due to ask parliament’s permission to draft a bill that proposes removing the presidential age limit.

Under the current law, a person over 75 cannot run for president. The bill to remove the age limit is expected to pass easily when voted on in the coming weeks, as majority of the nearly 500-member parliament belong to the ruling party.

Uganda’s long-time leader Yoweri Museveni is 73 years old and would not be eligible to stand again at the end of his term in 2021.

Opposition leaders accuse Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, of planning to rule for life.

The Director for the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, Livingstone Sewannyana, told journalists that  police have also sealed the offices of two NGOs.

He said, “the offices of ActionAid and the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies have been sealed and they are still being searched.”

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