Yes, I have been president for too long, which is not a bad idea, President Yoweri Museveni said Tuesday while addressing the nation at Serena hotel in Kampala.
“…that [staying in power too long] is why I have too much experience,” the president defended himself.
Museveni’s comment came hours after opposition Members of Parliament had demanded that he presents an exit plan for his administration as he addresses the nation.
The MPs cited a plot by the ruling party to lift the presidential age limit above the constitution limits of 75 in order to stand again in 2021 elections.
Busiro East MP Medard Lubega Seggona told Daily Monitor that the time is overdue; deputy Opposition Whip Roland Mugume asked for a clear transition plan; Shadow Minister for health, Julius Ochen, said Museveni had lost direction in terms of good governance and democracy while Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, the Opposition Whip in Parliament asked the president to respect the limitation provided in the constitution.
Speaking in Mbarara town last month, Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam international, asked Museveni and NRM not to be tempted to use their numbers to change the constitution to deny Ugandans a peaceful transition of power.
By 2021, Museveni will be above the 75 constitutional age and is thus not expected to run for presidency.
“I challenge all people on all sides, people speak out, when you see corruption, and injustice speak out. Justice is when instead of taking a few government officials abroad for treatment, money is invested in Ugandans hospitals for all citizens to access treatment,” she said.
Winnie maintained that Museveni’s time has come to an end and asked him to peacefully transfer power to another person, saying Uganda is the only country in East Africa that has not seen a peaceful transition of power.
“Ugandans should not be denied chance to effect their own peaceful transfer of power,” Winnie whose husband Kizza Besigye has stood four times against Museveni and lost, pointed out.
When asked if he was planning to run for another term as president of Uganda, Museveni told Talk To Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall, “We will follow the constitution.”
Museveni who has ruled Uganda for 31 years, with five presidential terms in office, 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.”
— State House Uganda (@StateHouseUg) June 6, 2017
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.”
Also last month, Geoffrey Macho, a ruling party NRM Member of Parliament for Busia municipality in Busia district, concluded that if President Museveni of today met his old former self of 1986, the two would fight a fierce combat until they both lie dead-vanquished.
Macho, a former resident district commissioner office of the president, former private secretary to the vice president in State House, insisted “if the President Museveni of 1986 met the President Museveni of today they would fight and kill each other”.
Museveni while defending his long stay in power, says he needs to help East African countries achieve a federation.
“I am here to see whether we can help you get the East African federation so that we have a critical mass of strength that can guarantee your future, our future and our children’s future. But not talking about presidency,” Museveni said last year.
“I am not a fanatic of presidency. If you want to survive, you blacks, you must work for African unity and for pan-Africanism. How will you survive against Britain, China and India? These are becoming superpowers.”
Writing in his 261-page book: “What is Africa’s Problem?” published by Minnesota Press in 2000, Museveni said, ““The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people, but leaders who want to overstay in power.”