Uganda’s constitutional court on Thursday, July 26, approved removing the presidential age limit of 75 years, a ruling that would potentially allow President Yoweri Museveni to extend his three-decade rule.
It endorsed parliament’s decision to scrap the cap in December that drew accusations from opposition parties that the 73-year-old Museveni wanted to be president for life and brought protesters onto the streets.
One of the five judges said no, another had yet to deliver his verdict.
Museveni—whose 32-year rule of the east African country has been marked by corruption scandals, human rights violations and poor social services—has yet to say whether he intends to run in the next vote, which is due in 2021.
He is the latest in a string of African leaders who have tried to prolong their time in office. In Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan, such moves have triggered instability.
Last December’s vote by parliament was the second time the Ugandan legislature has amended the constitution to allow Museveni to stay in power. In 2005 they voted to remove a limit of two five-year terms, which had blocked him from standing again.
Uganda’s judiciary is often criticised by the opposition for what they say is a failure to exercise its independence, handing Museveni victory in nearly all court cases that potentially jeopardise his hold on power, including petitions against past electoral victories.
Many Ugandans including the political opposition, religious leaders and some members of Museveni’s own ruling party opposed the proposal to change the constitution last year.
In September fist fights broke out in parliament for two consecutive days as lawmakers opposed to the measure tried to obstruct its passage.