Two people were rushed to hospital on Tuesday after police used teargas and live bullets to dispersed a consultative rally on the presidential age limit in Kasubi, Rubaga Division, in Kampala.
The rally was organised by Lubaga North MP Moses Kasibante to inform the electorate about the need not to amend Article 102 (b) of the Constitution that bars people who are over 75 years from contesting for presidency.
Speaker after speaker said the move by Mr Raphael Magyezi, the Igara West MP who tabled the controversial bill on September 27 to delete the article and supported by some NRM MPs, is intended to pave way for President Yoweri Museveni’s “life presidency” and therefore, should be opposed.
Mr Museveni will be 77 years in the next election in 2021.
Togikwatako, loosely translated as don’t dare touch the Constitution, is the rallying slogan for Ugandans opposed to the amendment of the Constitution to scrap the age limit cap.
Immediately after Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago took to the podium, a commotion ensued as police officers blocked the road near the rally venue opposite Kasubi Tombs.
In the ensuing melee, police fired teargas. One person was injured in the face and another on the right leg.
Most of the MPs, councillors and other politicians took off as police officers relentlessly fired bullets and teargas. The Leader of Opposition in Parliament, Ms Winfred Kiiza, and a few MPs endured the teargas.
Her aides shielded to withstand tear gas that engulfed the venue.
Kampala Deputy Lord Mayor, Ms Sarak Kanyike fainted and was rushed to hospital.
Meanwhile, President Museveni has warned that he will not tolerate any violence in regard to the ongoing age limit debate and that the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party cannot be threatened.
Speaking on Monday at Kisiki College in Namutumba District, Busoga sub-region, during the thanksgiving ceremony for the District Woman MP Mariam Naigaga, the President said NRM is “a master at violence”, except its violence is “disciplined and purposeful”.
“NRM fought for freedom in the country and freedom means giving one a chance to express his or her opinion without one threatening him or her. Where is the Opposition getting the mandate to stop NRM members from speaking their mind on age limit?” he asked.
A State House statement issued yesterday quoted the President to have said: “The amendment of Article 102(b) of the Constitution about age limit should be discussed calmly, politely without abusing anybody. Bring your reasons without intimidation so that we can get a correct solution. I want to warn those who intimidate others and think that they can threaten NRM, which ushered in peace, that their illusion is not possible. Our mission is purposeful and peaceful.”
The President warned those opposed to age limit removal that they should stop their “illusionary attitude” of intimidating people.
“Stop it,” he said. “We fought for freedom for this country and it must be protected,” the President was quoted to have said.
His warning comes just days after he openly told NRM Caucus last Friday that he was behind the proposal to remove 75 years as the upper age cap for a prospective President.
He said the current legal regime was discriminatory against Ugandans below 30 and 35 years that want to stand for offices of district chairpersons and President, respectively.
MPs subscribing to NRM have randomly been accosted by their constituents during consultations to popularise the scheme to remove both the lower and upper age limit for a President and district chairpersons.
The spate of attacks has prompted some of the affected legislators to sign up guns for personal safety or seek police escorts.
In Namutumba, Mr Museveni urged the wrangling MPs and district leaders to work together and pledged tractors.
Two Ugandan legislators supporting the scrapping of the presidential age limit were attacked.