Accessibility links

Critics Slam End to Term Limits for Uganda's President

Uganda's parliament is being criticized for voting Tuesday to eliminate presidential term limits. Those opposed to the move say it will enable the current president, Yoweri Museveni, to stay in power indefinitely.

Members of Uganda's parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday in favor of a bill that would remove the presidential two-term limit from the constitution.

University of Nairobi's political science lecturer, Adams Oloo, tells VOA the people of Uganda, and not its parliament, should make the decision to end term limits for the country's president.

"Parliament as an institution should not decide for the whole of the country whether there should be presidential limits or not," said Mr. Oloo. "That is a constitutional issue that needs the input of the people. Such an issue should go back to the people, either in a referendum or something like that in order for the people to allow it."

According to Uganda's constitution, a president can serve a maximum of two five-year terms in office.

There is one more vote scheduled for next month, when the bill will receive a final reading. That vote is expected also to favor ending the term limits.

President Yoweri Museveni has been in power since 1986, when he overthrew the previous government. He has been elected to office twice, and is supposed to retire before elections are held next year.

Hundreds of demonstrators protesting the bill clashed with police Tuesday in the streets of the capital, Kampala.

Grace Kaiso of Democracy Monitoring Group, a research organization in Uganda, says the bill would not have passed in a secret ballot.

"I think you have people who have voted not because of personal conviction, but because of fearing the consequences of not voting in favor of the bill," said Ms. Kaiso. "Those who have come out before to oppose the proposal have been eliminated from whatever positions they have."

Mr. Kaiso says lifting presidential term limits paves the way for Mr. Museveni to run in next year's elections and hold onto power.

VOA was unable to reach the president's office for comment. But speaking in parliament Agriculture Minister Kibirige Ssebunya defended the move to end term limits, saying it would bring in more presidential aspirants.

Another supporter of scrapping the term limits said if members of parliament are not subjected to two-term limits, why should that restriction be placed on the president.

Mr. Museveni has not indicated whether or not he will run in next year's elections.