Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has warned President Yoweri Museveni not to amend the constitution though he has power and because the institutions in Uganda now are for those in power.
“Museveni captured power through guns in 1986 and not by people’s consent. Last year, NRM captured power without people’s consent,” Besigye Tuesday addressing a press conference at his office along Katonga Road in Kampala.
Activity around the rumoured plans to amend Article 102 of the Constitution to enable Mr Museveni to run for president in 2021, having already surpassed the current age cap of 75 years, is already frantic.
Now Museveni’s biggest opponent Dr. Besigye said when former Uganda President Idi Amin was declared a life president, it wasn’t him who crowned himself; he organised Ugandans to crown him.
“It later on turned out that the people of Uganda never wanted Idi Amin to be president for life.”
He says the idea of a referendum and election, which are in “the hands of a dictator”, is simply providing avenues for them to say people have spoken.
A day after his party called upon President Museveni to respect the constitution, Besigye, a former presidential candidate today announced that opposition is launching a campaign against the lifting of the age limit dubbed: “#Handsoffarticle102” to reclaim people power.
Besigye’s new campaign might become popular as most of Uganda’s NRM-leaning legislators publicly speak in favour of lifting the age limit to the presidency though there are some members of the ruling party mostly from Western who are uncomfortable with the rumoured amendment and would like Mr Museveni to retire.
But activists have collated the telephone numbers of all MPs in the 10th Parliament, on whose shoulders the decision to lift the age cap could eventually rest if a Constitution amendment Bill is tabled in the House with that clause.
Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, the minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs was recently quoted by media as urging Ugandans to be patient and wait to see whether the rumoured amendments will be tabled, in which case the will of Ugandans, he said, will prevail.
President Museveni, who officially turns 73 in September, will be only four months shy of 77 by the time his current term expires in May 2021. He will legally be able to rule beyond 75 years old because the Constitution only prescribes age at standing for election and does not require one to relinquish the presidential official if they hit maximum age in the course of their term.
Mr Museveni has already benefitted from a change of the Constitution, when in 2005 the two five-year term cap to the presidency was removed. Both the term and age limits were written into the 1995 Constitution, whose making Mr Museveni was accused by colleagues like Dr Besigye of having tightly controlled.
Besigye has tried to unseat Museveni unsuccessful in the past four presidential elections.