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Q&A | President Museveni Talks to Al Jazeera | A five times-elected dictator?

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Posted May 1, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Q&A ~ 1,957 views

     

He’s ruled Uganda for 31 years. With five presidential terms in office, Yoweri Museveni is surrounded by controversies related to freedom of speech, human rights, allegations of nepotism, and even the killing of Ugandan citizens. But President Museveni claims Uganda is one of the most democratic countries in the world and that he is leading his people out of poverty and to an even better future. At 72, though, he’s three years away from the constitutional age limit to serve as president. But there is already speculation he will try to change that limit so he can get around it.  As he visited the State of Qatar, Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, talked to Al Jazeera.

  • On being remembered as a dictator: “A dictator who is elected five times? That must be a wonderful dictator.”
  • On a potential sixth term: “We will follow the constitution”
  • On the length of his rule. “My party has been winning. Is that an offence to win elections? What are you worried about?”
  • On alleged nepotism: “My wife, against my advice, she went and stood for the elections and had the biggest majority in the whole country.”

Al Jazeera: Human Rights Watch, in its latest report, criticised Uganda’s government’s dealings in terms of human rights. Suppression of free speech, putting dissidents in jail … we have the case of Stella Nyanzi who is still in jail just because she expressed herself. We also have the opposition leader who has been in jail several times. We have the government cracking down on opponents and preventing people from rallying freely. By law, more than five people should have the consent and agreement of the police before they can express themselves in the street.

Yoweri Museveni: Uganda is one of the most democratic countries in the world. In terms of free speech, we have something like 250 private radios, which say whatever they want. We have so many television stations, private … I don’t know how many you have here in Qatar, private ones … maybe you can tell me. I only see Al Jazeera. But for us, we have so many. The empowerment of women – many women compared to other countries – in leadership.

Al Jazeera: Why is activist Stella Nyanzi still in jail just because she expressed herself?

Museveni: If you are an activist and you commit an offence, because with human rights you must also speak of the rights of others, you cannot trample on the rights of others, and you say “it is my right to abuse other people”, to insult other people … no. Rights go with responsibilities – if you know anything about democracy.

Al Jazeera: More than just jail and cracking down on dissent, we have bloodshed in Uganda. In western Uganda, in Rwenzururu, just a few months ago, more than 100 people were killed by security forces who attacked a traditional cultural kingdom in the area, saying that that place had “terrorists” inside. What do you say to this?

Museveni: That issue is in court and according to our law, when something is in court I am not allowed to comment. The court will tell us whether those people were arrested for nothing or not.

Al Jazeera: We are talking about those who were killed, not those who are in court.

Museveni: Yes, even those who were killed. Were they killed for no reason – we shall find out from the court. It is in the court now. We call it the principle of sub judice. If I start saying they were wrong, they were this, they were that … then I’m interfering with the court. What I can tell you is since the matter is in the court, bring all your cameras, come to the court and film what they say. I invite you.

Al Jazeera: But we here, and the international audience of Al Jazeera, want to know what happened and we won’t be in court to see it. We want you, Mr President, to explain to us why you sent your troops to that area, to Kasese, to kill more than 100 people.

Museveni: Because they were breaking the law.

Al Jazeera: In what way? They were just guarding the palace [home of Omusinga Mumbere, king of the cultural institution] and they didn’t have any weapons.

Museveni: In Uganda, we’ve got many kings. They are not guarded by militias. They are guarded by the national army.

Al Jazeera: According to our facts, those people were killed and the king was persecuted because they were opposed to the president in the election. Because they are not pro-the ruling government.

Museveni: Not at all, and there are so many [opposed to the ruling government]. If they opposed the president, then what was the militia doing? Do political parties have militias?

Al Jazeera: Mr President, it seems that Ugandans are a little fed up with you because we are reading a lot of reports about this Facebook revolution. People are trying to go to the streets even though they are prevented and they are afraid, of course, of the security forces. They want to create something like the Arab Spring in Uganda. They are fed up because it has been more than three decades of your leadership and term after term after term, it is only one man ruling the country and the world around Uganda has changed. All presidents around Uganda have gone. Do you agree with me that there is a little bit of fatigue with your leadership?

Museveni: Have you heard of something called democracy? Democracy means you elect the people you like. We had elections about one year ago and my party won 62 percent of the vote. That does not show that the people of Uganda are fed up of our party because they have voted for us five times.

Al Jazeera: According to some reports, you have demanded to be given the right to choose the next leader of Uganda. You were unsuccessful.

Museveni: No. I cannot demand that. The people are there. The people have been electing me, in spite of Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera: Are you going to run for another term?

Museveni: We follow our Constitution.

Al Jazeera: There are reports that you are about to change the Constitution so that you can run for another term. Is that going to happen?

Museveni: I cannot change the Constitution because I do not have that power.

Al Jazeera: Reports also say that you are now preparing your own son, who is now highly elevated in the army and he’s your special adviser on certain issues. Your wife is also a minister – she sits next to you on the cabinet. Reports are you are preparing one of the two to become the next president of Uganda. What do you say to this?

Museveni: Why should I prepare them? The people of Uganda will choose the one they want.

Al Jazeera: People in your family are very close to you right now, closer than anybody else. There are reports that you are focusing on your own relatives and this is nepotism – giving them higher seats in the government. Isn’t that nepotism, Mr President?

Museveni: That’s not nepotism. The few members of my family that are involved, I involve on their own merit. My wife, against my advice, stood for election and had the biggest majority in the whole country – because the population appreciate what I have done.

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Full Summary — Ugandan Diaspora News Received From Al Jazeera Africa.

When asked if he was planning to run for another term as president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni told Talk To Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, “We will follow the constitution.”

Museveni has ruled Uganda for 31 years, with five presidential terms in office. At 72 though, he is three years away from the constitutional age limit to serve as president. He dismissed speculation that he will try to change that limit to extend his term. “I cannot change the constitution because I do not have the power.”

He defended the length of his rule. “Have you heard of something called democracy?” he asked Vall. “Democracy means you elect the people you like. We had elections about one year ago. My party got 62% of the vote. In fact, it would have been more if it had not been for quite a lot of spoilt votes. So that does not show that the people of Uganda are fed up with our party, because they have voted for us five times, winning free competition… My party has been winning. Is that an offence to win elections? What are you worried about?”

Similarly, Museveni denied he would go down in history as a dictator. “A dictator who is elected five times? That must be a wonderful dictator.”

He denied that his party had manipulated the elections. “Why did we lose elections in some districts? It was arranged that we handed some districts to the opposition? Don’t you think that’s ridiculous?”

Museveni also dismissed claims that he is preparing either his wife or his son to replace him. “Why should I prepare them? The people of Uganda will choose the one they want… There is no way I can choose for them, my wife, or my son, or even other people.”

He claimed their current prominence had nothing to do with nepotism. “The few members of my family who are involved, I involved on their own merit. My wife, against my advice, she went and stood for the elections and had the biggest majority in the whole country.”

He also dismissed criticisms that he has failed to raise up leaders to succeed him. “The leaders are there. We are a population of 40m. We have got 130 districts. All those districts need leadership. The parliament needs leadership. The ministries need leadership… The other leaders are there. But to maximise the leadership input, we use all our leaders. The young ones. The older ones…  So my people will decide on the who according to the what, the problem they are facing that needs to be solved.”

Museveni said he needed five terms “to start from zero, to where we are now. We were at zero; we are now able to do things by ourselves.”

He says the biggest issue “was to transform the traditional preindustrial society to the modern era.” He listed a number of his achievements: more than 25% of Ugandans are currently studying, through universal education; covered roads have increased from about 800 to nearly 6000km; and for the first time Uganda has surplus electricity.

He dismissed criticism of the number of Ugandans living below the poverty line. “The people under poverty in 1990 were 56%. The ones now under poverty are 19%. Yes, that’s 1/5th but we have covered 4/5ths.”

Museveni also dismissed claims that freedom of speech is restricted in Uganda, pointing to the number of private radio and TV stations. “Uganda is one of the most democratic countries in the world,” he said. “In terms of free speech, we have something like 250 private radios, which say whatever they want.”

In a tough interview, Museveni also fielded questions about the jailing of opponents like Stella Nyanzi and opposition leader Kizza Besigye; rules preventing people rallying freely; the recent killing of more 100 people by security forces in Western Uganda; and his foreign policy.

Source — Al Jazeera


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

2 Comments


  1.  
    Katende

    I don’t know which constitution he was referring to and it was good he did not mention the institution of parliament but only tried make people think he doesn’t dictate on anything




  2.  
    Kd

    It’s his reality, lost any sense what Uganda needs, speaks like amulordi!
    Let’s face it, it’s the era of the arrogant despot and athouritarian money ethicless leaders, he s in his element relishing the fact! He is ok I guess the assumption is everybody else must be ok. It’s all about him and what’s his. Let babies die at birth, poor Ugandans die of malaria, poor sanitation & malnutrition, students study under candlelight , makerere and mulango disintegrate, communities, our history and cultures be buried under meaningless trendy new & confusing chaos, who cares as long as expensive buildings, hotels and golf courses can be built by foreign investors he is happy!
    Surplus electricity in ug! Really!!
    Neela kyeyunyisa!





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