Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has hit back at Ugandans, telling them that he is not their servant or employee.
The veteran politician and guerrilla war fighter described himself as a freedom fighter who only cares about himself and his beliefs, according to Red Pepper.
“I am not a servant of anybody. I am just a freedom fighter fighting for myself and my beliefs,” Museveni said.
The 72-year-old President was speaking at a political rally held at Boma grounds in Masindi, Uganda, on Thursday to celebrate the 31st anniversary of Uganda’s ruling party, National Resistance Movement.
Museveni made the statement in reference to Ugandan civil servants, saying they often demand hefty salaries for their services yet freedom fighters put their lives on the line without expecting to be paid.
Some people believe the emotive statement was directed at Uganda’s main opposition leader, Dr. Kizza Besigye, who, during last year’s presidential campaign, asked President Museveni to be a servant of the people who elected him.
Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for more than 30 years, also ordered the country’s prime minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, to limit foreign trips by ministers, saying the money spent on “wasteful” trips can be channeled to important infrastructural projects.
Since President Museveni took power in 1986, he has always been accused of dictatorship and heavy-handedness. In fact, he has often used guerrilla tactics to clamp down on dissenting voices, especially from the opposition.
While Uganda’s economy has been growing steadily and crime levels are reducing, Ugandans are yet to taste democracy, especially if the ongoing crackdown on opposition leaders, their supporters, and journalists is anything to go by.
As late as November of last year, President Museveni ordered his security agents to raid Rwenzururu Kingdom in Kasese, Western Uganda, where they killed dozens of civilians alleged to be separatists.
Witnesses said the majority of those killed in the raid were unarmed civilians working at the King’s palace, but the Ugandan government has denied killing the civilians, insisting that those who died belonged to a militia group that had been recruited, trained, and armed by the kingdom.
The alleged group is said to be fighting for secession of some part of Western Uganda and the creation of Yiira Republic, which extends to the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.