The minority leader in Uganda’s parliament Ogenga Latigo is accusing president Yoweri Museveni’s government of planning again to extend the presidential term from five to ten years and scrap direct presidential elections altogether. He also claims that plans are afoot to amend the constitution to ensure that a presidential candidate is declared winner of an election by simple majority instead of the original fifty-percent-plus-one vote. The government has sharply dismissed Latigo’s accusations as fabrication and a figment of his imagination.
From Kampala, Ogenga Latigo says President Museveni’s pronouncement made the opposition suspicious of the government’s move to amend the constitution.
“We were reacting to the President’s reaction to the members’ of parliament request to be facilitated with vehicles. He made a really outrageous statement where he said that even the UPDF (Uganda Peoples Defence Force), that fought for democracy, has not been well facilitated with vehicles so the members of parlaiment can travel by public means to their constitueneces and back,” he said.
Latigo cites opposition concerns about the latest effort to amend Uganda’s constitution.
“This was basically like the President was trying to overthrow the constitution and we said we don’t want violence anymore. After all we hear rumors and this is coming from the people within his government where they are debating and contemplating startegies to amend the constitution so the President can continue in power. And there are two options that they are considering,” he said.
Latigo said he is apprehensive of a plan to amend the constitution, since the same tactics were used the last time President Museveni’s terms of office was extended.
“There was a group of people who attended the last year independence celebration who were given VIP seats and who were shouting on top of their voices when the President got there that there was the need for fourth term and all that. So for us it is not about rumors, the signs have begun just like the last time and the readings are on the wall. And we have to raise the alarm to alert Ugandans of this plot by the government,” Latigo noted.
He said the opposition raised an alarm about the government’s plan to extend the Presidential term limits to which the government dismissed their concerns.
“We did raise the same alarm last time and people thought we were lying. And when time came, the President removed the term limits, and he is still the President,” he said.
Latigo said raising an alarm is the first step in trying to stop the government from its plan to amend the constitution illegally.
“First of all, raising the alarm early enough to call the debate and to let the country and even the international community who have so much belief in President Museveni whenever he says something know that this is happening is one of the first steps. But the next step is to take the matter to the public…so that even when the constitution is changed, the people will know that the last resort is to vote the President out of office,” Latigo said.