At 73 years old, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni was only two years away from the constitutional age limit to serve as president. However, he just signed into law a new amendment, which abolishes the age limit, thereby allowing him to extend his presidency.
Since the beginning of his presidency, Uganda has seen many notable improvements. In addition to greater relative stability, his leadership has allowed for increased economic growth decreased HIV/AIDS, as much of his programming has prioritized education and prevention of the disease.
President Museveni came to power through a coup in 1986, and under his government, the democracy was born in 1996. Under the constitution of the new government, presidential term limits were set at two terms of five years each. However, at the start of his second term in office in 2001, strides were taken to do away with the two-term limit, which would allow Museveni to re-run for the presidential election in 2006. These efforts were successful, and Museveni won yet another election by a landslide, repeating his victories in 2011 and 2016.
During his current term, the threat to President Museveni’s power was no longer term limits, but rather the age limit set in the constitution, declaring that citizens under the age of 35 or over the age of 75 cannot hold the presidential office. This would disqualify the 73-year-old president from further re-election. So, on December 27, 2017, he passed a law, amending the constitution to abolish the age cap.
Although President Museveni’s efforts and programs have greatly improved Uganda, he has been Uganda’s only president. His refusal to relinquish his power for a second time highlights a major concern for many Ugandans, as Uganda has never seen a peaceful transfer of power since declaring its independence from Great Britain.
To learn more, follow this link to read an article published by Al Jazeera, a major global news organization, concerning this new development in Ugandan government. According to MP Robert Kyagulanyi (better known by fans of his musical career as “Bobi Wine”), the age amendment and implicit extension of Museveni’s power indicate bigger issues beneath the surface. Among these problems, Kyagulanyi mentions that over 85% of the Ugandan population is under 35 years old, but that most cabinet ministers are over 70; he sees this imbalance as a foundational for a government that is disconnected from the people it serves. Kyagulanyi also indicates that the message being sent by Museveni’s extended presidency is one of exclusivity that undermines the hope, freedom, and process of democracy rather than helping to prepare the next generation to serve their country well.
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