Uganda’s president says he is the one bullied

Republic of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni speaks during an interview, Tuesday, May 5, 2015, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Supporters believe that Museveni, who is one of the longest serving leaders on the African continent, will win another term should he decide to seek one in 2016.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Republic of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni speaks throughout an interview, Tuesday, Might 5, 2015, on the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Supporters imagine that Museveni, who is without doubt one of the longest serving leaders on the African continent, will win one other time period ought to he resolve to hunt one in 2016. (AP Picture/Bebeto Matthews)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — There may be a lot freedom in Uganda that it is almost anarchy, the nation’s president joked, stepping fastidiously round what’s an open secret again dwelling: Yoweri Museveni will run for yet one more time period subsequent yr, and certainly he’ll win.

Museveni, informal in an untucked gown shirt throughout an interview in a Waldorf Astoria resort suite, gave The Related Press his model of energy and succession on the sidelines of his look at a high-level U.N. assembly, the place he scolded the US and the opposite everlasting members of the Safety Council on their approaches to Africa’s issues.

Later Tuesday, together with his function on show because the chief of a regional energy and one among Africa’s most militarized nations, he met with White Home Nationwide Safety Adviser Susan Rice to debate the conflicts in South Sudan and the Darfur area of Sudan, the White Home introduced.

Dismissing accusations from critics that his rule over three many years has grow to be an increasing number of authoritarian, removed from the times when former President Invoice Clinton praised him as one among a “new breed” of reform-minded African leaders, Museveni instructed the AP, “If anyone has been bullied, it’s me.”

And as he prepares to show 71 in September, Museveni appeared little involved a couple of attainable authorized problem to a different presidential time period by those that argue he can be too outdated to be in cost. A brand new time period would take him over Uganda’s 75-year-old presidential age restrict.

However at the same time as regional neighbor Burundi is shaken by lethal protests over the not-unusual African situation of a president who needs to run once more, Museveni mentioned he’ll let Uganda’s courts resolve.

Greater than 30 flooring above midtown Manhattan, his dialog was solely faintly marked by the sound of sirens. Museveni was comfy, saying that the way forward for the presidency relies on what the ruling social gathering needs.

“The social gathering,” as Museveni put it, as a result of there are few different political events with any energy in Uganda, and people have been allowed solely lately. Till then, he argued that poor African nations couldn’t afford political rivalries. “That chaotic method of managing politics is just not our perfect,” he mentioned Tuesday. Inside social gathering chaos is not any higher: He fired his prime minister final yr.

As a substitute, the already rising 2016 marketing campaign seems like this: Big posters within the capital, Kampala, declare him the ruling social gathering’s sole candidate.

And at social gathering occasions, loyalist members are identified to kneel earlier than Museveni and beg him to run once more, saying he’s one of the best they ever had.

Maybe he can not disappoint them. He made it clear Tuesday, whoever the social gathering chooses will win: “Sure. Sure. Completely.”

When instructed, “Effectively, they need you,” Museveni replied, “Effectively, if they need, then we will see that once we get there.”

There are situations beneath which he may decline to run, he mentioned, however they aren’t for the press to know. “Cease politicking and get to work,” he tweeted earlier this yr.

“To an American, what you should perceive is Museveni’s been in energy whereas America’s had six presidents,” mentioned Nicholas Opiyo, a distinguished Ugandan lawyer and watchdog. The one factor that might enable a peaceable transition is that if Museveni is just not allowed to run due to the age restrict, he mentioned, “or if, by an act of God, he drops very sick.”

Here’s a sketch of Museveni’s and Uganda’s rise: Independence in 1962 from the British, the ousting of a repressive regime in 1986, presidency since then, wrestling with huge issues of the financial system and the AIDS disaster, efforts for which he was praised.

There has by no means been a peaceable switch of energy in all that point. Museveni gave no particulars Tuesday on what such a transition may seem like in his nation of 36 million individuals.

“It is all supplied for within the structure,” he mentioned. And does he need the presidency to move someday to his son, who leads Uganda’s particular forces and who observers say is probably going being groomed as the long run chief? “Oh no, it isn’t what I like, it’s what my social gathering needs and what the nation wants,” Museveni mentioned.

His fame has been broken by accusations of corruption, human rights abuses, and electoral fraud. Some observers fear he has grow to be the form of dictator he as soon as threw apart. Uganda’s downside, he as soon as mentioned in 1986 when he turned president, “is just not the individuals, however leaders who need to overstay in energy.”

Almost 30 years after changing into president, the previous Marxist insurgent nonetheless speaks when it comes to liberation on one hand, management on the opposite. Uganda, and Africa, should be reworked. Uganda should shift from a third-world nation to a middle-class one. Africa’s markets should be built-in. Prosperity is vital.

“Some can be achieved whereas I am in heaven, however I’ll play my function,” he mentioned.

Western powers, he has mentioned, should cease their imperialist insurance policies on the continent. And if the Safety Council had listened to Africa earlier than authorizing army motion in Libya a number of years in the past, he mentioned in his U.N. speech Monday, that nation’s present chaos and the lethal journeys of migrants on the Mediterranean might have been averted.

“African options for African issues,” he mentioned in his speech. Rwanda’s neighbors might have stopped that nation’s genocide 20 years in the past, he declared. However critics have referred to as him reckless; he has backed rebels combating governments in what’s now Congo, Rwanda, Central African Republic and Somalia. Museveni has mentioned he was serving to battle corrupt regimes.

Nearer to dwelling, he was requested about Uganda’s current notoriety over an try at harsh anti-gay laws, which a courtroom invalidated final yr. Some worry that one other try is likely to be made with an election coming. However Museveni, who signed the invoice however accurately warned about its impact on financial ties with the West, mentioned, “It is actually not a precedence for us.”

In any case, Uganda does not penalize homosexual individuals, he mentioned. “However we additionally do not promote that conduct. As a result of it isn’t the conventional conduct.” Maria Burnett, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, mentioned Tuesday that “little question about it,” Uganda stays a troublesome place to be homosexual.

In reality, Museveni mentioned of his nation at giant, smiling on the mere suggestion of authoritarian rule, there may be “a lot freedom that it’s virtually an issue in itself.”

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Related Press writers Rodney Muhumuza in Kampala, Uganda, and Michelle Faul in Yola, Nigeria, contributed to this report.

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Aline Niyonkuru

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