By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA (Reuters) - The Ugandan government wants to remove the age limit for presidential candidates, a senior official said on Friday, a move that would allow Yoweri Museveni to stay in office.
The rules were already changed in 2005 to remove a two-term limit that allowed Museveni, now 72 and in his fifth term, to stay on. Under the current constitution, he would be too old to run in the next election, due in 2021.
Mwesigwa Rukutana, Uganda's deputy attorney general, said the cabinet was examining several possible changes to the constitution and that the age limit was one of them. The proposals will be put to parliament.
"If anybody has been serving very well and the population thinks he still has a lot to contribute he should not be precluded from doing so merely because he has clocked 75 (years)," he told Reuters.
"There are so many people who like that (age limit) amendment ... as long as people are voting, age of the candidate doesn't matter," Rukutana said.
Museveni, president since 1986, has not publicly stated he intends to run for another term but many Ugandans assume the move to lift the 75-year age limit is to let him do so.
He is already one of the longest-serving leaders in a continent where many presidents have changed their constitutions to hold on to power beyond what was initially envisaged.
Rukutana denied the proposal was being crafted to benefit Museveni, and declined to say when the government planned to present its proposals.
Museveni's spokesman, Don Wanyama, declined to say if the president would seek another term, calling such talk "speculation".
Museveni's critics accuse him of using security forces and the judiciary to stifle opposition and say government officials are rarely punished for widespread corruption.
(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa and Robin Pomeroy)