Fistfights and chair-throwing broke out in parliament on Tuesday ahead of a proposed debate on whether to lift the presidential age limit currently pegged at 75.
The move, perceived by critics as a thinly-veiled push by President Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for more than three decades, to hold onto power, has generated nationwide violence as civic rights activists, NGOs and religious leaders continue to call for calm and warn security organs against brutality and “partisan politics.”
The Ankole diocese Bishop, Rt. Rev. Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa has on Wednesday said this debate is going to damage and wreck society, including Children.
“They are being treated to melodramatic scenes of, otherwise esteemed citizens of Uganda, who are descending into using fists instead of putting on gloves and fighting professionally using their brains during parliamentary debates.” Sheldon wrote in his article, “Age limit:Knuckles or reason?” published by one state aided news daily.
“Although degenerative language has been used before by parliamentarians, since Evelyn Anite made her remarks about the majority NRM’s prospects to win the motion and support of Mangye (army), in case opposition wanted to forestall the process, hell broke loose with unprecedented verbal artillery and in some cases physical forces…,” he added
Broadcast media houses yesterday showed government and opposition lawmakers coming to blows after the House speaker allowed a ruling party legislator to introduce a motion to kick-start the process to remove an age cap.
“Please take your seats… Let us speak with our words, not with our fists,” Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga said as she tried to calm the enraged lawmakers. MPs opposed to age lifting successfully foiled the meeting when they broke into endless singing of the national anthem.
Rt. Rev. Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa’s remarks come at a time Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has directed broadcast outlets to stop live coverage of the Parliamentary debate procession in the chambers on Wednesday.
“The Commission hereby directs all broadcasters to immediately stop and refrain from broadcasting live feeds which are in breach of the minimum broadcasting standards and the best practice guidelines for electronic media coverage/ reporting and broadcasting of live events,” UCC Executive Director, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi said.