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Brawl in Uganda parliament amid debate over limits to presidential terms

29 September 2017

Although UCC was not explicit enough in its communication that it was the ongoing controversial age limit debate in parliament and country-wide protests that it was targeting, subsequent social media communication from the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze seems to indicate just as much.

The evictions came after the parliamentary speaker, a member of the ruling party, accused some lawmakers of obstructing proceedings in a riotous session Tuesday during which legislators brawled over efforts to introduce legislation to remove the presidential age limit of 75 from Uganda's constitution. In 2005 he had the constitution amended to remove term limits, enabling him to stand successfully for a third, fourth and fifth consecutive term.

But critics say behind the scenes he is orchestrating the move by lawmakers to remove the last hurdle to extend his presidency, possibly to rule for life.

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That bill has led to protests in Uganda and, on Tuesday, the parliamentary fistfight. He has been in power for more than three decades.

But fighting broke out again when parliamentarians returned to the house on Wednesday.

"The Commission has noted with concern that both radio and television broadcasting operators are relaying live broadcasts which is inciting the public, discriminating, stirring up hatred, promoting a culture of violence amongst viewers and are likely to create public insecurity or violence", the statement said.

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The motion passed, parliament communications director Chris Obore told Reuters, adding that Magyezi would have about a month to submit the bill to a first reading in the House.

The United States urged Uganda's government to protect basic freedoms "without fear of intimidation", and Amnesty International said authorities "must end their absurd attempts to silence people opposed to scrapping the presidential age limit". Those supporters say the bill is not specifically about extending Museveni's rule, but rather ending discrimination against older politicians.

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Brawl in Uganda parliament amid debate over limits to presidential terms