2 Ugandan opposition lawmakers' homes hit by grenade attacks

2017-10-03 14:29
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Kampala - Attackers lobbed explosive devices at the residences of two opposition lawmakers in assaults that the legislators said are related to their resistance to attempts to extend the long-time president's time in office.

No one was hurt in the blasts on Monday night, but the lawmakers, Allan Sewanyana and Robert Kyagulanyi, said on Tuesday they believe their lives are in danger.

Tensions are rising in Uganda as opposition leaders try to mobilize support against legislation to remove a constitutional age limit that bars anyone over 75 from becoming president.

Writing on Facebook, Kyagulanyi, a pop star with a large following in the capital Kampala, said he has been getting "death threats on an almost daily basis" after he opposed the bill.

"These are cowardly acts which must be condemned by all people of good conscience," he said. "We are not involved in war. We are just citizens who are interested in a good country for ourselves and the generations to come."

President Yoweri Museveni, 73 and in power since 1986, is ineligible to seek re-election in 2021 if the age barrier stays.

Ssewanyana told The Associated Press that he believes his home was attacked by members of Uganda's security forces who "intended to injure me."

"The only people entitled to have explosives in Uganda are the police and UPDF," he said, referring to the Ugandan military.

Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said on Tuesday it was possible opposition members acquired stun grenades to launch attacks and then "frame" the government. He gave no details in a series of Twitter posts on Tuesday.

Kyagulanyi and Ssewanyana are among a group of lawmakers who were violently ejected by plainclothes security officials from the legislative chamber on Wednesday before legislation was introduced to remove the last barrier to a possible life presidency for Museveni. The evicted lawmakers had been accused of disobeying the parliamentary speaker's orders when they tried to filibuster proceedings by repeatedly singing the national anthem.

At least two lawmakers were injured in the confrontations, including one who remains hospitalised.

Uganda's ruling party enjoys an overwhelming majority in the national assembly and the bill is expected to pass. Presidential term limits were removed from Uganda's constitution in 2005.

The United States urged Uganda's government to protect basic freedoms "without fear of intimidation," and Amnesty International said authorities "must end their absurd attempts to silence people opposed to scrapping the presidential age limit."

Museveni, a US ally on regional security, was re-elected last year in a poll marred by allegations of fraud and voter intimidation. His longtime opponent, Kizza Besigye, urged Ugandans on Tuesday to "take action" in a campaign of civil disobedience.

"Don't touch our will. Our will is that there must be a peaceful transition," he told reporters.

Uganda has not seen a peaceful transfer of power since independence from Britain in 1962.

Although Museveni warned in the past that Africa's problem was leaders "who want to overstay in power," he has since said he was speaking about leaders who were not elected.

Read more on:    yoweri museveni  |  uganda  |  east africa

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