Ugandan Parliament passed a controversial bill to remove the presidential age limit by a large majority on Wednesday, effectively paving the way for long-ruling President Yoweri Museveni to run again in 2021.
Parliamentarians voted for the legislation after three days of rowdy debate, with great applause as the motion passed with members of parliament shouting and stamping their feet.
A total of 317 members of parliament voted in favour of the amendment, with 97 against it and two abstentions, parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said.
“Therefore the motion has been carried,’’ she announced.
The president now has to sign the bill into law.
The current law states that any person over the age of 75 is not eligible to stand for election as president, but the new bill imposes no age limit, allowing 73-year-old Museveni to stand again when his ongoing term ends in 2021.
The Ugandan president has been in power since 1986 and is one of Africa’s longest ruling leaders.
Opposition lawmakers had opposed the amendment, resulting in violent outbursts in parliament over the past months.
On Wednesday, several opposition legislators were arrested as they tried to enter the chamber.
“They were blocked and arrested and we do not know where they were taken.
“Our colleagues went to court and they were bringing court orders to the Speaker to allow our colleagues to vote,” legislator Gilbert Olanya said on NTV television.
“We are living in a military junta regime, a military State,’’ another opposition legislator, Kato Lubwama, said.