Diaspora erupts in age limit, life presidency protests

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Protests are raging in the diaspora as Ugandans abroad either support or reject the lifting of the presidential age limit to allow President Museveni stretch his grip on power.

Ugandans in United States of America demonstrated against age limit amendment over the weekend, asking Museveni to leave power and abandon the life presidency scheme.

They carried placards denouncing plans to scrap article 102(b) from the constitution and the life presidency project while others demanded a restoration term limits.

Ugandans in Sweden gathered on Saturday carrying the national flag and wearing red headgears or dressing in red.

“We are demonstrating in solidarity with our gallant sons and daughters fighting against the Abuse and Rape of Uganda and ordinary Ugandans by Ugandans in power,” they said.

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Last month, a coalition of Ugandans in the diaspora threatened to take Museveni to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity since the bush war. They launched a new resistance campaign at the Boston Marriot in Newton, Massachusetts.

Martin Byakuleka, a member of the Ugandan Community in the United States of America described the proposed amendment as absurd adding that by seeking to extend his three-decade rule, Museveni is instead creating a bigger problem for the African continent.

Byakuleka said the diaspora community has a primary responsibility to fight excesses, expose abuse and restore constitutionalism and rule of law in Uganda considering that freedom of expression in Uganda is increasingly becoming limited.

“…The dictators are very good at intimidating, oppressing and bribing the primary factors in their country. Our people now can hardly protest, the moment they bring out the head, they beat, they go back. The moment they say something, they kick them they go back.”

He added: “There is no space to protest. So if the people inside the country who are the primary factors have no space to protest, now who are the primary factors? You have the primary responsibility to make sure that this dictatorship doesn’t take hold you must make it very difficult and eventually it goes.”

The organisation codenamed the Common League of the Ugandan Diaspora, a wing that will be used to facilitate resistance efforts by various groups in Uganda, will also extend financial support to individuals and groups fighting against life presidency, to counter the NRM numerical strength.

“We must have an organised resistance, I tell you that I have a suggestion of an organisation and it is called The Common League of the Uganda Diaspora…And this organisation shall need our struggle from now onwards. We the diaspora shall actively support brave people who go to protest on the street.”

“We are going to facilitate them and we’re going to liaise with them constructively on how to defeat the dictatorship from our country. Because what all this tantamount to is a project of life presidency. If you remove 102(b) so that Mr Museveni goes to the polls over and over again, you know what happens when Mr goes to the polls, he never loses”, he said.

They say removing presidential term limits in 2005 and the attempt to remove the remaining safeguards against life presidency deeply erodes the sense of hope among Ugandan citizens.

Pro-age limit protests

In July, a section of Ugandans living in Diaspora particularly those in the United States Of America under their  ‘Organisation for Action’ (OFA) supported the amending the article calling it unfair, discriminative and undemocratic.

They argue that the age of one to stand in elective politics should be proportionate to that of a person who is granted access to a ballot or voting rights.

“Article 102 and article 183 of the constitution says that a person shall not be qualified to be elected as president unless; Not less than 35 years and not more than 75 years of age. All these articles are unjust and should be quickly amended by parliament under the guidance of article 259 of the same constitution,” their statement read.

The statement said a democratic nation where there are elections, the idea of limiting the age to which a person can or cannot stand for office should be a non-issue because if a leader is perceived as unfit to rule, then he or she can easily be elected out of office.

“The idea behind democracy is that you let the voters decide. Democracy means if someone is too old for you, don’t vote them. It’s wise not to have maximum age limit in counties where people have ultimate power in democracy and it is them who decide about who can or cannot serve the nation. Politics should be about efficiency and effectiveness not forgetting the power lies within the people.”