Top Court paves way for Ugandan President to run for sixth term

Uganda’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a decision to scrap presidential age limits, paving the way for the country’s 74-year-old leader, Yoweri Museveni, to seek a sixth term in office.

The decision allows Museveni who has ruled Uganda since seizing power at the head of a rebel army in 1986 to seek re-election in polls due in 2021.

The top court dismissed a challenge by Museveni’s opponents, who had appealed against a constitutional court ruling that removed an age cap of 75 for presidential contenders.

“This appeal therefore fails,” Chief Justice Bart Katureebe declared in handing down the court’s majority 4-3 verdict.

Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana declared the verdict “a big win for Uganda.”We are elated. This is a sign of how democracy has taken root in our country.

A bill removing presidential age limits was signed into law in December 2017 after a chaotic passage through parliament that saw MPs engaging in fisticuffs.

That decision sparked protests and an outcry from the opposition, which accused the president of seeking to rule for life.

The constitutional court upheld the amendment in a ruling in July last year, but it was challenged by the opposition in Uganda’s highest court.

A seven-judge Supreme Court bench began hearing the appeal in January, with opposition lawyers arguing the bill was unconstitutional.

The power to amend is not the same as the power to rewrite the constitution,” said Justice Lillian Tibatemwa, one of the three judges who ruled for the opposition.

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