Ugandan lawmakers brawl over bill on presidential age limit. Here’s what citizens think.


A debate over a bill in Uganda’s parliament Tuesday turned violent, with lawmakers throwing chairs at colleagues and physically fighting them.

The bill that led to the brawl would amend parts of the constitution related to electoral matters. Among other more minor provisions, the bill would remove the age limit for presidential candidates.

Uganda’s constitution (in Chapter 7, Section 102a) bars anyone older than 75 from running for president. Should the bill fail, incumbent President Yoweri Museveni is ineligible to run for reelection in 2021. Museveni is 73 and has ruled Uganda since 1986.

Tuesday’s brawl in Parliament revealed a number of MPs supportive of Museveni continuing his rule over the country. But what do ordinary Ugandans think?

In a nationally representative survey of 1,200 adults interviewed by Afrobarometer between Dec. 26, 2016, and Jan. 8, 2017, 75 percent of Ugandans agreed that the constitutional stipulation on presidential age limit should be maintained.

Citizen opinion on maintaining the age limit is not driven by Ugandan dissatisfaction with how Museveni is doing his job. Presidential approval is high in Uganda, at 70 percent among Afrobarometer respondents. Of course, support for the age limit is higher (88 percent) among those who disapprove of Museveni’s performance compared to those who approve (71 percent).

Nonetheless, popular support for the presidential age limit is even strong among Museveni’s co-partisans. According to the Afrobarometer survey data, two-thirds of Ugandans who feel close to Museveni’s political party — the National Resistance Movement (NRM) — support the presidential age limit.

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Washington Post