Scores of Ugandans are now living in fear and despair of the possible extension of power of another despot after President Yoweri Museveni publicly declared that he supports extending a president’s term to seven years from five.
While giving his reason for supporting the move, Museveni said extending the time between elections would give African leaders more opportunity to promote development because they would not be distracted by politics.
“For these countries with all these problems … five years is just a joke,” a statement from the presidency quoted Museveni as saying. “Leaders in Africa have much more to do and need adequate time (between elections) to develop the continent.”
According to Andrew Karamagi, a rights activist and critic of Museveni, such a move would help enable one of Africa’s longest serving leaders to rule for life. He also said the president’s comments are: “an insult to our intelligence.”
“To invent a fresh bogeyman, particularly by the same person who said that Africa’s problem is leaders who stay too long in power, is unfortunate. If five years are so few … can he show us what he has done in 31 years,” he told Reuters.
For two day’s straight in the month of September, there was a free for all as Ugandan lawmakers were engaged in a brawl over a move to change the country’s constitution to let long-ruling Museveni run for re-election after age 75.
The fiercely disputed move saw lawmakers exchange blows and kicks, with some using microphone stands as crude weapons in the melee.
Protests also erupted at the time in the streets of Uganda and the capital Kampala in particular with the death of a victim confirmed as police fired bullets and teargas to disperse opposition demonstrators marching against plans by Museveni to extend his rule.