Ugandan police detain two lawmakers as scuffles mar debate over Museveni’s rule

Two Ugandan lawmakers were dragged away and detained when they tried to enter parliament on Wednesday, as a divisive debate on extending President Yoweri Museveni’s rule was marred by violence for a second day.

Police blocked some legislators from entering the building, and live television footage showed two of them being driven away in security vehicles.

Both opposed the bill that would remove an age cap of 75 years on presidential candidates, thereby allowing Museveni to extend his 31-year rule of the oil-rich East African nation.

It was unclear why the lawmakers were detained, and police did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

The legislators blocked by police were attempting to enter parliament to serve court documents on House speaker, Rebecca Kadaga, who was presiding over the debate.

The document called on her to appear in court at 2 p.m. in respect of “the irregular suspension of our members of parliament,” independent lawmaker, Wilfred Niwagaba, told a local television station minutes before he was detained.

Six MPs, all opposed to removal of the age cap were suspended from parliamentary proceedings on Monday for alleged disorderly conduct and refusing to heed the speaker’s instructions.

A debate on the bill was adjourned for several hours on Tuesday after some legislators said soldiers had entered parliament.

Uganda’s next presidential election is scheduled for 2021.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that on Tuesday, the parliament had unexpectedly adjourned their debate on the same issue after a lawmaker said that soldiers had entered the building.

The lawmakers were debating a draft bill that would remove a constitutional age cap that bars Museveni from standing again.

While the debate was ongoing, some members of parliament exchanged blows with the police and that led to the suspension of six of the lawmakers.

Proceedings resumed about two hours after they were suspended and stretched on for about seven hours before Kadaga adjourned them again to Wednesday, when a final vote on the bill is expected.

A previous attempt to debate the bill in September ended with lawmakers trading punches and throwing chairs and the forcible intervention of security forces.

Several legislators were hospitalised with injuries.

The scuffles broke out between the lawmakers and police shortly after speaker Rebecca Kadaga adjourned the debate.

It was unclear what exactly triggered the confrontation.


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