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Uganda still needs me, veteran president says ahead of key meet

29 November 2014, 16:52

Kampala - Uganda's veteran President Yoweri Museveni has told the east African nation it is "lucky" to have him in charge, as he tries to cement support from his ruling party for another spell in office.

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.

There has also been an intense rivalry with his one-time ally Amama Mbabazi, who was ousted as NRM party chief in March and then sacked as prime minister in September.

"Uganda is lucky to have me. It is, therefore, not acceptable at all for anybody to play around with this unity that we have built," a report on Friday from Uganda's Observer newspaper quoted him as telling a meeting of local government representatives.

NRM party delegates are due to hold a conference on December 15 at Mandela National Stadium in Kampala, with over 10,000 people expected to attend.

Museveni is keen to show he is firmly in charge.

"I am a Ssabalwanyi (fighter), and I did not spend five years in the bush for nothing," the former rebel leader was quoted as saying.

He complained that any problems in the NRM were "because we had a weak secretary general" -- a clear attack on Mbabazi.

On Friday, Mbabazi - a former prime minister - confirmed he also plans to attend the party conference, adding to speculation that his supporters may try to disrupt the event.

"I will definitely attend the conference. Who would want to push me out of the party?" Mbabazi was quoted as saying by the Daily Monitor newspaper.

Contacted by AFP, Mbabazi's press secretary Josephine Mayanja-Nkangi merely said: "Why in heaven's name wouldn't he go?"

Government spokesman and NRM deputy party spokesman Ofwono Opondo, however, warned that Mbabazi's supporters wanted to "cause chaos" in the stadium, but dismissed any worries by asserting the ruling party was "getting stronger".



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