President Yoweri Museveni says he will not choose for Ugandans if they are to be ruled by his wife and Education minister, Janet Kataaha Museveni or his son and Senior Presidential Adviser for Special Operations, Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
Museveni recently told Talk To Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall that he personally “will follow the constitution” if he is to seek a sixth term of office.
He dismissed accusations of being a dictator saying a dictator who is elected five times must be “a wonderful dictator”.
Challenged on the length of his rule, Museveni said his party has been winning. “Is that an offence to win elections? What are you worried about?”
On alleged nepotism, Museveni 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.
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?”
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?”