African Press Association

Mass arrests in Uganda constitutional tensions

From HASSAN ONYANGO in Kampala, Uganda
KAMPALA, (CAJ News) – UGANDAN police have come under fire for the incessant crackdown on critics opposing plans by legislators to drop presidential age limits from the constitution.If successful, this would allow President Yoweri Museveni to run for another term.
More than 50 people from the opposition and civil society organisations have been arrested following meetings held in defiance of the plans.
The current age limit to run for president is 75 years.
Museveni, in power since 1986 after the toppling Milton Obote, will be over the age-limit when the next polls are held in 2021.
This bars him from a sixth term but indications are that the ruling National Resistance Movement will use its dominance in parliament to annul the limit.
Police, accused of partisanship during Museveni’s 31 years in power, have responded heavy-handedly to opponents of the plans.
Amnesty International denounced the use of the controversial Public Order Management Act (POMA) to quash dissent.
“The Ugandan police are no strangers to making arrests in utter disregard for constitutionally-guaranteed rights, but this most recent case is patently absurd,” Amnesty regional director, Muthoni Wanyeki, said.
“These 56 individuals are guilty of nothing more than attending a peaceful meeting. They should be released immediately and unconditionally.”
Police have justified the arrests, arguing the protesters violated “public order management laws.”
– CAJ News

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