This is not the right time to go, says Museveni

I'M GOING NOWHERE: President Museveni (IN HAT) has told critics. On his left is his wife Janet Museveni and Uganda's premier Ruhakana Rugunda

I’M GOING NOWHERE: President Museveni (C) has told critics. On his right are his wife Janet Museveni and Uganda’s premier Ruhakana Rugunda

The Longest serving leader in East Africa, President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has hit back at critics urging him to relinquish power that “they need to know that this is not the right time.”

While campaigning in the western district of Ntugamo, Saturday., Museveni reiterated his intention not to abandon Uganda at this critical juncture when the “banana” he planted is starting to bear fruits.

“Those who say, let him go, let him go, they need to know that this is not the right time. This old man who has saved the country, how do you want him to go? How can I go out of a banana plantation I have planted that has started bearing fruits?” Museveni told cheering supporters.

The Ugandan leader, who is seeking his fifth term as president has been power for nearly 30 years. He says those pushing him to stand down should be patient and wait until the right time comes for him to retire after he has accomplished his mission of developing Uganda.

“We can’t be in the middle of a forest and want the old man to go. This is not right. We must concentrate on development, my time will come and I will go. I don’t fear going because I have where to go, but we must first see where we go,” he stressed.

Ugandans are preparing to head to the polls next month to elect the East African country’s next leader and Museveni is the favourite to win the February 18 election. He is being challenged by longtime ally and the country’s former premier Amama Mbabazi of The Democratic Alliance (TDA) and the three-time presidential candidate Kizza Besigye of Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) among other contenders.

President Museveni orchestrated the removal of term limits from the Ugandan constitution in 2005 to ensure he runs for office indefinitely.

Museveni’s rival, Amama Mbabazi has come to regret backing the move to erase term limits from the constitution whilst still serving as Kinkizi West Member of Parliament in 2005.

While campaigning in Ngora district on this Friday, Mbabazi conceded “although I fought for the removal of term limits, I am now changed and a better person. In my first term in office, we shall restore the two-term limits in the Constitution.”

Museveni, Mbabazi, Besigye and other presidential aspirants are due to spar in the first national televised general election debate next Friday but sources say Museveni, who had previously indicated he would attend plans to shun the debate. Besigye has revealed he will skip the event as well if the incumbent doesn’t show up.

The opposition in Uganda argue Mr. Museveni has overstayed his welcome and have relentlessly called on him to leave power.

Appearing on VOA Straight Talk Africa program Wednesday January 6, UK-based Dr. Vincent Magombe of Africa Inform International labeled Museveni “the godfather of third term” in East and Central Africa arguing other regional leaders like Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi and Joseph Kabila of DRC are emulating the Ugandan head of state to tamper with their countries’ constitutions and cling on to power.