Sunday, June 12, 2016

This Is Our Continent, Not Yours! – President Museveni

SPIEGEL speaks with Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled Uganda for three decades, about the West's role in fostering African Islamist terror, his opposition to the International Criminal Court and whether he is himself abusing his power.
Interview Conducted by Susanne Koelbl and Jan Puhl
*President Museveni and his wife, Janet
SPIEGEL: Mr. President, as a young politician you castigated autocratic African leaders who ruled for their entire lives. When you came to power, you changed the constitution so you could stay in office longer. It has been 30 years now. When will you leave?

Museveni: My critics always forget to mention that I was democratically elected, the others were not. Everyone in Uganda can challenge me, everyone can vote, the elections are free. Not many countries have achieved what we did. One third of the seats in parliament are reserved for women, five seats for youth, five for workers, five for the disabled and 10 for the army. How many democracies with such a record do you know?

SPIEGEL: So far, the political party system has yet to succeed in Uganda. Your only serious challenger, Kizza Besigye, has been arrested repeatedly. International observers certified the recent election as unfair, and on one day during the election campaign, you were on television for 12 hours while your opponent was only on for four minutes. Is this democracy?

Museveni: Our laws and institutions are excellent, but the population is not yet ready. They must develop their views and need to be provided with the right information. We now also have private broadcasters and many are very critical of me, hostile even, yet they operate freely.

SPIEGEL: Aren't you afraid of an African rebellion similar to the Arab Spring? Uganda's rapidly growing population is young, globally connected and its biggest problem is the lack of jobs and the feeling of not being able to breach the old leadership structures.

Museveni: Our population is growing rapidly because of our good health policy. When I came into office, there were 14 million Ugandans, today there are 38 million, despite the catastrophe of AIDS, which we have also tackled. The Ugandans know and appreciate this, especially the elderly. This makes it very unlikely that Uganda will face a chaotic scenario similar to that in Syria or other places. Incidentally, doctors, scientists, engineers and nurses are highly sought after and find jobs immediately.

SPIEGEL: Last year, 1.3 million refugees came to Germany, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but also from Africa. Many believe this is only the beginning of an exodus to Europe. What do you suggest to stop this wave of migrants?

Museveni: Mistakes were made. But I would prefer to talk about these issues in detail with your political leaders.

SPIEGEL: Is this in reference to the wars in the Middle East or the uprisings in Libya and Tunisia?

Museveni: When the problems in Libya started, the African Union set up a committee to address the situation. We urgently advised the Europeans not to intervene. You have done so anyway. Now we are seeing absolute chaos there.

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