Ugandan police on Tuesday fired teargas and rubber bullets at opposition supporters protesting plans to remove presidential age limits, seen as paving the way for President Yoweri Museveni to serve a sixth term in office.
Hundreds of protesters, wearing red bands on their heads, swarmed a densely populated, poor neighbourhood of the capital to demonstrate against the bill, which prompted angry brawls in parliament when it was tabled late last month.
The current curbs would prevent Museveni, in charge for the last three decades, from running for a sixth consecutive term in 2021.
Museveni is aged 73, while the current law blocks candidates over 75.
“This was a peaceful rally to consult citizens on the age limit amendment bill for the presidency, but police, seeing the huge numbers that turned up in support of our campaign, fired teargas and bullets”, the Ugandan leader of the opposition in Parliament, Winnie Kiiza told AFP.
“This is a test of democracy. Museveni is out to brutalise us but we are not relenting. He has police. We have the people, but he has to go and retire peacefully,” she added.
Another MP, Moses Kasibante, said 18 people were injured by rubber bullets, however this could not be independently verified.
An AFP reporter at the scene saw several people with large cuts on their bodies after police began firing rubber bullets.
Police spokesman Asan Kasingye blamed opposition politicians for the chaos.
“Police deployed at the rally to keep law and order but the politicians begun inciting the audience until police intervened to restore peace and order,” he said.
Shoes, clothes, foodstuffs, broken chairs, teargas cannisters and other personal belongings littered the ground after the protest.