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Africa

Explosives hurled at Ugandan opposition MPs' homes

Ugandan opposition politicians who have spoken out against removing presidential age limits reportedly had grenades thrown at their houses. President Yoweri Museveni's party wants to scrap the limit. Alex Gitta reports.

Ugandan MP Robert Kyagulanyi is one of the latest opposition politicians who had his windows smashed on Tuesday morning. He points to the damage caused by explosions from what are believed to be hand grenades that went off deep in the night.

Another opposition MP - Allan Ssewanyana of Makindye East - had been attacked early Tuesday morning as well.

These two cases are the latest in what seems to be a string of attacks after opposition MP Moses Kasibante had his windows smashed last week. 

Attacked because of opposition to scrap age limit?

This comes after hefty brawls in parliament when a member of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's ruling party proposed a bill to scrap constitutional age limits. 73-year old Museveni, who has ruled the country for the last three decades, is currently prohibited from running for a sixth term in 2021.

Read more: Ugandan police shut down protests over presidential age limit bill

Kyagulanyi and other MPs were suspended from parliament for three sittings after they fought with security forces that physically dragged them out of parliament last week.

A screenshot of Ugandan NBS TV shows the brawl in parliament (Youtube/NBS TV Uganda)

Members of parliament got into a hefty brawl over lifting the presidential age limit

Kyagulanyi told DW he has received threats ever since he spoke out against the law removing the age restriction. "Nobody has been hurt yet, but I cannot say we are safe," he told DW.

'Back off the age limit campaign'

"This follows numerous threats on my life, messages that have been sent through people and calls I have been receiving. The calls have always been anonymous, but the point has always been clear to them: I should keep my mouth shut, I should back off opposing the age limit campaign."

But Kyagulanyi is unfazed by these threats. "I have always told them that no amount of threats is going to change my resolve to stand in defense of the constitution."

That view was echoed by Ssewanyana. "Of course I am scared, but I won't give up. I am a people's representative," he told DW.

"I am calling upon all Ugandans not to give up, because this is a serious fight. What shows the seriousness in this fight is the attacks they have now started against us, especially attacks involving weapons."

A means of intimidation 

The Police have confirmed the attacks. Kampala Metropolitan Police Commander Frank Mwesigwa told reporters the grenades by the unknown attackers were intended to evoke fear and panic.

"These are factory made hand grenades, but with less shattering effect unlike the other offensive grenades," he said, adding these kinds of explosives were mainly designed to be loud when thrown.

Smashed window of opposition politician Moses Kasibante (photo: DW/A. Gitta)

Smashed window of opposition politician Kasibante

Ever since the brawl in parliament, demonstrations and arrests of key political figures have been the order of the day after the opposition started a red ribbon campaign dubbed Togikwatako, loosely translated as "Don't touch it". That slogan refers to article 102B of the Ugandan constitution that limits a presidential candidate's age - the law blocks candidates older than 75 years.

If the constitution is not amended, Museveni would not be able to run again for elections. The process to amend the constitution started last week when MP Raphael Magyezi was given permission to prepare a bill which he presented in parliament on Tuesday. The bill is now scheduled to be discussed by the legal and constitutional affairs committee which will decide how to proceed next.

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