Uganda’s veteran President Yoweri Museveni has said the people don’t want him to retire but that he doesn’t “need power”, ahead of a highly anticipated ruling party conference next week.
Museveni, aged 70 and Uganda’s leader since 1986, has already been chosen as the ruling National Resistance Movement’s (NRM) candidate for presidential elections due in 2016, but there have been increasing murmurs of discontent within some sections of the party.
While appearing on a radio talk show during the weekend, the leader was challenged by MP Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda to announce his retirement date.
“I don’t think the Ugandans are as obsessed with my retirement, because whenever I go for elections, five million tell me not to go, but stay,” Museveni was quoted as saying by Ugandan newspapers.
“I do not lack where to retire to, but I am also a member of a party and I do what it tells me.”
In September, Museveni sacked the country’s prime minister, Amama Mbabazi, a former ally who has emerged as a potential challenger. Mbabazi, the NRM secretary general currently on forced leave, has confirmed he will attend the party delegates’ conference due to begin on December 15 in Kampala.
It adds to speculation that his supporters may try to disrupt the event.
“I don’t need power. For what? I don’t need power as a person,” Museveni said.
“I have my home, I have my house. I need nothing from anybody as long as there is peace in Uganda.”
The ageing leader also said he didn’t think there was “any country in the world that is more democratic than Uganda,” claiming that the uprisings in countries like Egypt and Libya could not happen in Uganda.
Libya’s toppled dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world until his ousting in 2011, had allowed “no competitive politics,” Museveni said.