Uganda presidential term extension plan draws flak

Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:28am EST

Related Topics

* Museveni's huge poll win disputed by opposition

* President is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders

* Opposition leader will not rule out armed rebellion

By Barry Malone

KAMPALA, Feb 28 (Reuters) - A member of Uganda's government has proposed lengthening the presidential term to seven from five years a week after President Yoweri Museveni extended his 25-year-rule in a disputed election.

The opposition, which says the election was a sham, condemned the proposal and branded state minister James Kakooza as "puppet" of the president.

Kakooza successfully proposed a motion to scrap a two-term presidential limit in 2005, allowing Museveni to run again.

"The president has a manifesto but you waste two years looking for re-election," Kakooza told Reuters on Monday. "Is it practical that you can implement a manifesto in two years? Seven years would be more time to deliver better service to the people."

Museveni, one of Africa's longest serving leaders, was handed 68 percent of the vote by the electoral commission last week with closest rival Kizza Besigye trailing on 26 percent.

Besigye, a former ally of Museveni, says the poll was flawed by bribery, ballot box stuffing and intimidation and has called for peaceful protests.

Kakooza said he would also propose reinstating the two-term limit. If passed, his proposals would come into effect in 2016 when the country is due to vote again, he added.

Opposition politicians slammed the proposal on television and in newspapers and some said the proposal was an attempt to extend the president's rule by 14 years.

Museveni has said it is up to his National Resistance Movement party to decide whether he will run again in 2016, by which time Uganda is expected to be a top-50 oil producer.

Once hailed as a democrat, Museveni has been criticised over moves -- including the initial scrapping of presidential terms limits -- that opponents say signal the 67-year-old wants to be president for life.

Kakooza denied the proposal was an attempt to extend Museveni's rule "I'm not working for Museveni," he said. "I'm working for a system of good governance. Anybody could win the elections in 2016."

In an interview with the country's Daily Monitor newspaper on Monday, Besigye, Museveni's field doctor during a five-year civil war that thrust the president to power, said he would not rule out an armed revolt against Museveni.

"I have never ruled out the use of arms to remove a dictatorship," Besigye told the newspaper.

"The reason we are saying we should not go to war now is because we think there are still other avenues to bring the country back on the path of constitutional rule." (Editing by Alison Williams)

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