As the Members of Parliament debated the issue of presidential age-limit, violent and chaotic scenes erupted in Parliament among them.
The contentious removal of the age-limit sparked a fierce brawl, as tempers flared after there had been allegations that an MP brought a gun into Parliament. The Speaker ordered a search but no gun was found after the search was done. The current cap for the age-limit is currently at 75. Right now, incumbent president Yoweri Museveni is 73 years-old.
The pandemonium was serious. MPs shouted, shoved, threw punches and lobbed documents in a fight between ruling party politicians and those from the opposition. At least one MP brandished a chair and attempted to hit his opponent over the head. The proposed amendment even created more ugly scenes outside, as police battled with students who were protesting against this. Hundreds of students at Makerere University defied a blanket ban on protests and marched around campus wearing red ribbons as a sign of sheer defiance.
The local media reported that it around twenty minutes for the situation to return to normalcy in Parliament. The age-limit issue has been so contentious that last week Parliament had to be adjourned after MPs heckled each other, shouted at each other and whistled. The constitutional age-scrapping amendment will pave way for Yoweri Museveni to be in office till 2021. The move is apparently viewed as a machination to perpetuate the term of office for Yoweri Museveni.
The ruling party, National Resistance Movement, has been infamous for amending the constitution in order to prolong Museveni's term of office. They did the same in 2005, allowing Museveni to stand for a third term in office. He has been in office since being democratically elected in 1986 (he had initially seized power as the head of a rebel group). The current age-limits are preventing him from standing for another term, and that is the primary reason for the amendment of the constitution.
The crisis in Uganda just reveals a phenomena common in African countries, where constitutions are amended in order to drive forth a certain agenda.