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President Yoweri Museveni on Human Rights Abuses, Democracy And Conflicts With Opposition Parties in Uganda


VOA's Exclusive Interview With Yoweri Museveni of Uganda
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VOA's Exclusive Interview With Yoweri Museveni of Uganda

VOA’s Peter Clottey conducted a one-on-one interview with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The discussion centered around topics of regional security, human rights abuses and confrontations with political opposition in the country.

Peter Clottey (VOA) Let's begin Mr. President with regional peace and stability as well as continental peace. What role is Uganda playing and is committed to playing, to ensuring peace and stability particularly in the East African corridor?

President Yoweri Museveni

Our role in Africa, It can only be two to two elements, element number one, to tell the Africans the medicine we used, because there is this medicine which seems to have helped us, so when I meet, whenever I meet, I say please, the antibiotic I used and the antibiotic has four elements, patriotism, pan Africanism, socioeconomic transformation and democracy. And secondly, where our help is required we help him and we're able to help. Our soldiers to where they will not say, why are we taking me to Somalia? Because he knows. He knows that for the future of Africa, Somalia is, needs Uganda and Uganda needs Somalia.

Peter Clottey Let's talk about democracy and the rule of law in Uganda. Recently you talked about elections that were held during the pandemic and all. I understand you called on some opposition leaders to meet and all that. My question is, is President Yoweri Museveni willing to meet your critics and opponents to hash out, because as you said it's patriotism and building the country together to talk.

President Yoweri Museveni

We are meeting…we have a group called ÁLPOT Interparty Advisory Committee is like, OK, we have a few who don’t come, who don’t want to come that don’t attend otherwise, we have been having this for the last, actually ten years now, we discuss everything about the family. We said the government must fund them following a certain formula according to the numerical strength of the parties in parliament.

Peter Clottey

Some of these minor parties as you call them, are saying that the political space appears to be narrow and that when they go about meeting their constituents or meeting their supporters, security agencies including police, used to stop them, sometimes they are beating, sometimes they are dispersed, how do you respond to such criticism, Mr. President?

President Yoweri Museveni

The friction was over the corona time, actually, they are the ones who caused the second wave, the second wave of corona should be opposition worth. That's how we get into some friction. Otherwise, there are no… radios…Uganda has got one of the freest media in the world. Check how many radio stations are there. They say whatever they want to say. If they break the law they are accused in court and they fight it out.

Peter Clottey

One of your critics made waves with claims of torture by the military that he has the scars to prove it. They had known you to be against torture, that this is happening. So when you hear that Mr. President how do you respond to that?

President Yoweri Museveni

Well, it's true that some of the people were tortured. I have got some…i have not confirmed about that one but I have confirmed some other cases, and I took it up with the…because you see, the…part of the problem of Africa is capacity building. We are building armies and security forces. These come with sometimes they come with traditional ideas from the village, or, they get imported ideas from the former colonialists. Like for instance the police force which was here during colonial times, they were using those methods. The answer for those is…apart from… the documents are there, the laws are there. But the sensitization to tell them that first of all, torture is not necessary.

Peter Clottey

Your opponents say Mr. President has been in power since 1986. What at all does he want to achieve that he hasn't achieved? What does he want to do? Children born since 1986 have known only one leader and one leader only.President Yoweri Museveni. They said it is about time Mr. President goes to his farm, takes care of his grandchildren, and then leave it to the young generation to continue what he has build. How do you respond to them, Mr. President?

President Yoweri Museveni

So those people are Democrats? I thought they were Democrats because that's a decision that is taken by the electorate, the electorate. First of all the problem we have is that all those actors have no mission. They just want power. For us, it is not the question of who or who's to be in power. Our understanding is the what? What is to be done? If you have done something on patriotism, good. That's why we've got some good results. That's what you get is not a failed state. That's why we don't have the UN here to guard us to defend us, or France to bring troops here to defend us as if as if there are no people here.

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