Ugandan police arrest students, mayor and block opposition offices over protests

Ugandan police have arrested five Makerere University students and the Mayor of the capital city Kampala, while offices of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) were sealed off Thursday morning to stop planned protests against the removal of presidential age-limits.

The five students were arrested after teargas was fired to disperse dozens who joined planned march from their campus in Kampala to parliament to petition the speaker against the removal of presidential age-limit.

Police move into backstreets nr. #Makerere. Arrest students protesting against lifting presidential #AgeLimit #Uganda pic.twitter.com/kn3YIGKrWX— Michael O’Hagan (@micoh) September 21, 2017

The Kampala City Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago was also picked up from his home and sent to the Kira police station over plans to march from the city hall to the city square with other city leaders to campaign against the removal of age-limit, local media Daily Monitor reported.

The police also sealed off the offices of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) to prevent them from staging a similar march to parliament in order to petition the speaker against the proposed amendment.

They published letters sent to the police days earlier seeking permission to embark on the procession.

FACTS: Here are the copies of the letters we delivered to Parliament_UG & PoliceUg, also attached are copies of our delivery book. pic.twitter.com/7tBDfMqDGb— FDC Official (@FDCOfficial1) September 20, 2017

The marches are in contravention with the Wednesday night ban on processions by the police which said the ban applies to both those against and for the age-limit.

The Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura said in a statement on Wednesday that planners of demonstrations can use other forms other than processions to allow parliament to “debate in peace”.

He explained that they received information about groups planning to use the cover of processions to “cause violence and mayhem” and that the police is obligated to keep law and order.

Press Release: IGPUGANDA on planned processions in the city. pic.twitter.com/LM1v6QtawQ

— Uganda Police Force (PoliceUg) September 20, 2017

There is heavy police presence around the parliament and the city centers.

Members of Parliament of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) and some independent MPs passed a resolution to debate the removal of the presidential age limit currently pegged at 75.

The debate starts on Thursday and if the amendment is approved, President Yoweri Museveni can contest in the next elections.

In 2005, a constitutional amendment was made removing the two-term limit for the presidency to allow the president to run for a third-term which he won.

Museveni, who is now 73, will be two years older than the current age limit in the 2021 election.