Uganda's Museveni 'clarifies' opposition leader's 'lies'

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni (left) and opposition leader Kizza Besigye are locked in a war of words. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has angrily dismissed an opposition leader's charges that Uganda under the ruling National Resistance Movement is being run as a military dictatorship disguised as a democracy.

Mr Museveni vented his fury in a letter sent to media houses Wednesday, the first of what he said are two pieces written in response to a February 3 interview in independent Sunday Monitor weekly in which Dr Kizza Besigye, the former official opposition leader, described the NRM regime as a military dictatorship and a let down to those who sacrificed to bring it to power 27 years ago.

Titled "Clarification on Besigye’s lies", President Museveni also rebuffed the opposition leader's criticisms of his son Brigadier Muhoozi Kainerugaba’s meteoric rise within the army ranks. (Read: The rise and rise of the President's son)

"Dr Besigye keeps deceiving civilians who do not know the history of National Resistance Army well," Mr Museveni wrote.

He said that by joining the army, his son, who commands the Special Forces, had provided good publicity to inspire highly-qualified young Ugandans to join the military for professional reasons.

Mr Museveni said Brig Muhoozi was documented into the army, acting on long standing interest first witnessed by a decision after completion of his secondary education.

The President said had Uganda been a military government, political activism by the opposition-- which he described as sabotage that had delayed Uganda’s industrial progress-- "would not have been possible."

In penning his reaction, Mr Museveni admitted that he had resisted the urge to comment about the "circus" he had been following in the media over recent remarks attributed to him and other top government officials of a possible military coup, but Dr Besigye’s interview had left him with little option. (Read: Ugandan army wades into coup debate)

He argued that while many like Dr Besigye would decline to appreciate his administration’s "undeniable success" over the years, his government had been able to post excellent results, expanding the Ugandan economy by 14 times, from Shs3.5 trillion ($1.32 billion) to Shs60 trillion ($22.6 billion) since taking over office in 1986, and guaranteeing peace and security in the country.

The President also addressed what he said were “petty issues” raised by Dr Besigye, including his reservations on Brig Muhoozi’s current influence and the idea of ruling party MPs retreating at Kyankwanzi where they were exhorted to toe the official line in the face of an increasingly assertive parliament.

Mr Museveni is fond of writing long letters on various topics, from Libya to answering particular individuals such as journalists.

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