No country for young men –Uganda’s 73-year-old president has a plan to rule forever


[From The Economist Magazine]

Yoweri Museveni seeks to abolish the age limit for the top job

Print edition | Middle East and Africa

Sep 30th 2017 | KAMPALA

“THIS is a generational cause,” says Bobi Wine, back in his studio after a long day in parliament. In June the singer and self-styled “Ghetto President” (real name: Robert Kyagulanyi) won a sensational victory in a parliamentary by-election. Now he is the spokesman for Uganda’s frustrated youth in a struggle to stop Yoweri Museveni, the actual president, from extending his rule. “All the power has been packed into the presidency,” he says. “We want to take it back to the people.”

Mr Museveni used to say similar things himself, blaming Africa’s problems on “leaders who want to overstay in power”. But after 31 years at the top he has changed his mind. Politicians in his ruling party are trying to scrap a clause in the constitution which says candidates must be no older than 75 to run for president. The goal is to let Mr Museveni, 73, stand again in 2021—and probably rule for life.

There were fist-fights and flying chairs on September 26th as Mr Museveni’s supporters tried to start the process in parliament. The opposition stalled things by incessant singing of the national anthem.

The next day MPs such as Mr Wine were dragged out of the chamber by security forces and the proceedings began. The amendment needs a two-thirds majority to pass, and almost certainly will. The ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) has a thumping majority and most MPs are pliable. The legislature has helped Mr Museveni out once before, voting in 2005 to remove term limits. On that occasion MPs were each given 5m shillings (then about $2,500), officially to “facilitate” discussions with constituents.

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