Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni recently defended his three-decade reign against allegations of dictatorship, nepotism, political assassinations, and the abuse of human rights, insisting that Uganda is “one of the most democratic countries in the world.”
In an interview with Al Jazeera during his recent trip to Qatar, 75-year-old Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for 31 years, rejected the controversy that surrounds his administration, insisting that he is leading his people out of poverty and to a better future.
“The people [Ugandans] under poverty in 1990 were 56 percent; the ones now under poverty are 19 percent. So if your mathematics is working well it should help you,” Museveni said.
Human Right Violations
Asked why popular Ugandan activist and university scholar Stella Nyanzi is still in prison for criticizing him and his wife, Janet, the Ugandan president justified the arrest, insisting that Nyanzi committed an offense and must face justice.
“To enjoy rights you must also respect the rights of others. You cannot trample on the rights of others and say it’s my right to abuse other people, to insult other people, No! Rights go with responsibilities, if you know anything about democracy,” Mr. Museveni said.
The president also brushed off questions about the frequent arrests and detentions of opposition leaders, such as Dr. Kizza Besigye, saying he must “follow order.”
On the lack of free speech and constant clampdown on media in Uganda, President Museveni defended his administration, explaining there are about 250 private radio stations and “so many” private television stations that are “free to say whatever they want.”
However, the Ugandan president had a hard time explaining why he ordered the killing of more than 100 Ugandans in the recent massacre in Kasese, in western Uganda.
The majority of victims killed in the massacre were reported to belong to King Charles Mumbere’s royal guard.
Museveni ordered his military to attack the Rwenzururu Kingdom in November last year for promoting secession and terrorism.
Critics say the attack against the people of Rwenzururu was a revenge mission by President Museveni for opposing him in the last general election.
“If they opposed the president, what were the militia doing? Do political parties have militias? You come to the court you will hear why those people were killed,” Museveni insisted.
The President also confirmed that he is the one who promoted the man who led the Kasese attack, Brigadier Peter Eluwellu, to be general and a commander in the Ugandan army.
Not surprisingly, Museveni also defended his prolonged stay in power, declaring that he has always been elected freely and fairly.
“Democracy means you elect the people you like. So if you think that the majority of Ugandans are fed up of NRM [Uganda’s ruling party], then the vote doesn’t show that,” said President Museveni.
“The issues of countries are issues of destiny, not mere appearance and theater.”
On the ongoing civil war in neighboring South Sudan, Museveni said the war is a result of “ideological disorientation,” which he said his country has already dealt with and that’s why it is “peaceful”.