As 2016 starts, and certainly with an eye on next month's elections, President Museveni says his main challenger is telling lies, reports EDRIS KIGGUNDU.
President Museveni has described his political rival Dr Kizza Besigye as a liar who is not fit to be president. Delivering his New Year message at the Kisoro state lodge, Museveni told journalists that he was angered by Besigye’s decision to visit Abim hospital, which is due for rehabilitation, instead of other health facilities that have been refurbished.
He said: “A president is next to God. You don’t tell lies when you are a president or aspiring to be one. You cannot have a president or somebody aspiring to be a president telling lies. That is a disaster for the country. You would rather say I don’t want to comment, but to tell lies when you want to be a president?”
Early this month while campaigning in Karamoja sub-region, Besigye visited Abim hospital which he found in a state of disrepair. The hospital has not had a doctor for at least one year and many patients sleep on the floor.
After Besigye’s visit resulted in public outcry, the local government leadership in Abim attempted to penalize three nurses who spoke to the FDC candidate during the tour.
Reacting to the visit, which has seen government officials restrict access by candidates to health facilities, the president in his address decried what he called “bad politics.”
“I want people who are engaged in the elections to stop bad politics, telling lies, trying to use violence because we are not going to tolerate those mistakes, in particular the use of violence and bad politics will be resisted and defeated. This should be clear to all and sundry,” he said.
Museveni further said that UPDF, Uganda police and intelligence services have ensured total peace in Uganda.
“Ultimate security means the ability to guard our sovereignty by, if necessary, defeating any aggressor and group,” Museveni said.
The president also said he was not sure whether he would take part in a presidential debate slated for January 15.
“I have no problem with debating. I was president of the debating society [at Ntare School] in 1965; so, debating is no problem, but time. We started late and I am addressing four rallies a day. My staff will sort it out with those who are organizing,” he said.
The highly-anticipated debate is being organized by the Inter-Religious Council. On campaign violence being perpetuated by NRM supporters and security operatives, Museveni, instead, blamed the opposition for the chaos.
“The other day I was campaigning and I saw people with posters of other candidates, Amama Mbabazi, Besigye…When I am moving around I see some FDC people making signs at me [he flashes the V-sign]; should I get out of the car or tell my bodyguard to get out of the car and beat those people, that they have provoked me? I cannot allow it to happen in my presence.”
On the economic management of the country, Museveni said since 2006, NRM has resisted the mistake of spending on consumption before spending on development and wealth creation. At his urging and insistence, Museveni said the NRM caucus and cabinet prioritized six areas that government must pay extra attention to.
These are: immunization, education, peace and security, roads, electricity and ICT. As a result of this decision, he said, a number of roads have been built using a combination of local funds and some limited funds from donors.
“I am happy to note that all the major roads in Uganda will be tarmacked in the next five years or less,” he said. “These include ongoing projects like: Moroto-Nakapiripirit, Ishaka-Kagamba, Mpigi-Kanoni, Kanoni-Sembabule Villa Maria, Musita-Lumino-Busia, Gulu-Acholi Bur. It is unprecedented in the history of Uganda to have so many roads being worked on and most of them being funded by the government.”
Museveni said government’s intensification of immunization services has reduced the infant mortality rate from 156 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1986 to 44 deaths out of 1,000 live births today.
Asked for his best moments of 2015, Museveni mentioned the visit of Pope Francis in November and the warm reception he has received so far on the campaign trail.
“I was not very excited by the pope’s visit but I am happy I got his blessings,” Museveni said.