KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Officials with Uganda's ruling party want to remove the age limit on the presidency so long-time President Yoweri Museveni can run again, a spokesman said Wednesday.
Museveni, who took power by force in this East African country in 1986, was re-elected in a disputed election in February. His current term expires in 2021.
Museveni, who turns 72 later this year, is constitutionally barred from running again but can seek re-election if lawmakers throw out the age clause to effectively hand him the presidency for life.
A group of party officials recently presented a petition to Museveni calling for the age limit's removal, presidential spokesman Don Wanyama said Wednesday.
Because the ruling party has an overwhelming majority in parliament, any political decision seen as favoring Museveni is not likely to face opposition.
In 2005, lawmakers voted to remove term limits on the presidency, saying Museveni remained popular across the country and should be allowed to run again. He has since won re-election three times in polls marred by allegations of vote-rigging and intimidation of opposition supporters.
Museveni's supporters are "second-guessing him" in the belief that a presidency-for-life is what he really wants, said Nicholas Sengoba, an independent political analyst in Uganda. "It is very rare that Museveni turns down such proposals that work in his favor," he said.
After taking power following a guerrilla war, Museveni said he despised African leaders who overstayed in power. He now he faces growing accusations of authoritarianism from critics at home.
Museveni is a U.S. ally on regional security, especially in fighting Islamic extremists in Somalia.
Last year in the Republic of Congo, voters approved revisions to the constitution's term and age limits that would have barred another long-time leader, President Denis Sassou N'Guesso, from running again.