Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni signed a controversial age limit law that allows him to run for a sixth term. File photo by Jason Szenes/EPA
Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has signed a new law that abolishes a 75-year age limit for presidential candidates -- a move that positions him to extend his rule.
Museveni, 73, is now eligible to run for a sixth elected term in 2021, having served since 1986.
"He assented to the bill after the speaker wrote to him. It's now law," presidential secretary Don Wanyama said Tuesday.
Wanyama announced the new law's signing Tuesday, but said it was ratified by Museveni last week.
On Dec. 20, Uganda's parliament passed the law with the majority of lawmakers voting in favor.
Museveni called supporting legislators "liberators of Uganda."
"I salute the 317 MPs who defied intimidation, alignment, and blackmail and opted for a flexible Constitution to deal with destiny issues of Africa," Museveni said.
Opposition politicians say the law is "unconstitutional," and some lawmakers have threatened to resign if it was passed.
"It sets a bad precedent for the country, what Ugandans need is not a life presidency," Livingstone Sewanyana, executive director of Kampala-based Foundation for Human Rights Initiative, said. "We are not surprised by his assent to the bill because it was largely his scheme."
Museveni said the law will help ease the leadership crisis in Africa, saying age limits prevented the population from choosing their leaders.
The only world leaders who have held onto power longer than Museveni are Teodoro Obiang Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Paul Biya of Cameroon and Denis Sassou Nguesso of the Republic of Congo.