Lawmakers with Uganda’s ruling party have agreed to introduce a law to remove the president’s age limit from the country’s constitution.
The National Resistance Movement lawmakers on Tuesday voted unanimously in favour of the motion which would allow longtime President Yoweri Museveni to extend his rule.
Uganda’s constitution currently stops anyone over the age of 75 from contesting for president.
Yoweri Museveni, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, who is 73 and ineligible to run again if the president’s age limit remains, will now be able to seek re-election if the law is scrapped.
President Museveni, however, dismissed the talk of seeking re-election about two months ago. He said he was concentrating on his programmes and age limit was not an urgent matter.
Members of his party as well as State House staff, on the other hand, are rumoured to have been working on this move for a while.
Simeo Nsubuga, a legislator from Museveni’s party, told Reuters the move to amend the constitution was agreed in a special meeting of the party’s House members.
“We agreed that a private member should come up with a constitutional amendment bill to remove the age limit,” Nsubuga said, adding the bill would be introduced on the floor next week.
Museveni’s party has an overwhelming majority in the national assembly, and a bill to remove the age limit is expected to pass when the procedural process starts.
They have argued that the proposed constitutional change was not specifically to benefit the incumbent but all of Uganda’s future leaders.
In 2005, NRM legislators changed the constitution and removed a limit of two five-year terms, allowing Museveni to extend his reign.
“The president really wants to remain around till he dies,” said Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, an attorney and political analyst in Uganda. “Certainly the opposition will put up a fight, but whether or not it will be successful is another thing.”
Some opposition figures have said they will stage street protests against any attempt to amend the Constitution.