President Museveni on Friday cautioned NRM MPs to “think about the future of Uganda and the continent” as they deliberate on the bill to lift presidential age-limit.
Addressing the caucus in the conference hall of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), impeccable sources within the NRM told The Nile Post that a bullish Museveni said many of the political leaders we have do not think strategically and are short-sighted.
“What do you want for your country? What do you want the future of Africa to look like? We have made many mistakes in the past and we should not repeat them,” Museveni reportedly said.
The atmosphere was tense, according to our sources, as Museveni made his remarks.
There was heightened security within and outside the conference hall.
Some MPs raised concerns that they are likely to be attacked as they move around their constituencies consulting on the bill.
“Your excellency the threats against our lives have increased,” said Simeo Nsubuga, the Kassanda South MP.
In July, Nsubuga was attacked while attending a function in his constituency where Kabaka Ronald Mutebi was the chief guest.
Museveni said no one will threaten anybody and that the country had the means to deal with anybody who seeks to disrupt the peace.
“Don’t worry about that. We have dealt with so many forces before and defeated them,” Museveni said as the MP applauded.
Museveni said he had deliberately decided to keep quiet over the proposed amendment because he was busy.
The president said: “I had been following developments around the debate on the age-limit only that he was too busy dealing with other things.”
Museveni said that he now “has time” to deal with the issue of the presidential age-limit.
The president’s eventual endorsement of the presidential age-limit bill was the final stamp of approval needed by the NRM MPs to have the cap removed.
It also confirmed that he will be on the ballot in 2021, if the bill, as expected, sails through parliament.
At 73, Museveni would be ineligible to contest for the presidency in 2021, when his current term ends.
Currently the bill is before the parliamentary legal affairs committee.
REBELS THROWN OUT
Museveni’s address came minutes after some NRM legislators deemed to be rebels had been thrown out of the caucus.
The MPs included: Theodore Ssekikubo (Lwemiyaga), Barnabas Tinkasimmire (Buyaga West), Monicah Amoding (Kumi Woman MP), Gaffa Mbwatekamwa (Kasambya) and Patrick Nsamba (Kassanda North).
Ejecting them out of the meeting, Museveni said “I will listen to you in another platform. Not here.”
Before they moved out, sources said, Museveni first allowed Tinkasiimire to make a statement.
As the Buyaga West MP rumbled on and on, Museveni asked: “Have you changed your position (do you now support the bill?)”
Tinkasiimire said he still stands by his original position to which the president told him to “shut up.”
There was some tension as the MPs moved out. Officers of the Special Forces Command paced up and down the rows of the conference room, trying to ensure that chaos did not break out. The MPs later addressed a press conference at parliament in which they accused the NRM of trying to shut down critical voices in the party.
Later Raphael Magyezi, the Igara West MP, who is the originator of the bill, was given an opportunity to elaborate on the bill.
Magyezi told the MPs that the bill is not intended to benefit one individual as some people are saying.
Yet he again contradicted himself when he said that given Museveni’s achievements for the country, it is only fitting that the presidential age-limit be removed “to allow him to continue.”
The NRM caucus meeting started at 11.00 am and ended at 4.00PM.
The first sessions of the meetings were chaired by Ruth Nankabirwa, the government chief whip.”
Later at parliament, Nankabirwa told journalists that Museveni’s speech had basically focused on the future for Africa.
“The president told us that as MPs, when we talk about our constituencies, we should know that those constituencies belong to Uganda and Uganda belongs to East Africa and Africa,” Nankabirwa said.
She justified the ejection of the “rebel MPs” saying they could not sit and plan with “enemies.”
Nankabirwa said the president cautioned the members about using money to influence people during the consultations.
She said: “He said we must be very careful when we are dealing with issues of money and facilitation. He said he would prefer that when you go to consult and you have called the leaders, you calculate the transport and refund it.”