The outgoing US Ambassador Deborah Malac, has aimed a dig at President Museveni and his NRM government for staying long in power saying it might lead to problems in the future.
Having served in Uganda for four years, Malac will late this month leave the country as US Ambassador but also retire to private work after spending 39 years doing US public service, mainly in Africa.
Speaking at her last press briefing on Thursday, Malac said the long stay in power and failure to have a peaceful transition will at one time lead to problems for the country.
“If you look at history, governments and regimes that stay in power for a long time and don’t plan for what comes next will often end badly,”Malac said.
“It is a separate issue of when the transition will have to come and it’s a conversation that Ugandans have to hold but a transition will happen at some point. However, the failure to think about it and live as if it is not necessary creates frustration and concern among the population.”
President Museveni has always insisted that Ugandans will decide who their next leader will be or when to have the transition of power.
“The people of Uganda will select who (to be their next leader) according to the problem they are facing and needs to be solved. The people who have been electing me will follow our constitution. We follow the constitution and it is the will of the people,”Museveni said while speaking to Al Jazeera in 2017.
“It is the people of Uganda to choose the one they want.”
Speaking on Thursday, Malac however said because Uganda has never had a peaceful transition of power since independence people have a number of concerns over the same.
“I know it becomes difficult in countries like Uganda to talk about succession and transition and not sound political in the sense that you must be against or for a particular group but the issue is figuring out the other voices so they are heard and issues discussed,” she said.
The outgoing US Ambassador who has been in Uganda for four years, has been very vocal on issues of human rights and democracy and has on several occasions been accused of interfering in local politics after being viewed as being pro-opposition but speaking about the same, she said she does not care about what many think of her.
“When you are in the public eye, you know not everyone is going to like you but one thing that I have tried to do throughout my career not only in Uganda but wherever I have been is being true to the values of the US and ensure to be true to the foreign policy and national interests of my country,” Malac said.
“I have always been candid and straight forward because we have to be frank with our partners. I don’t know how to do my job in any other way. People are entitled to their opinions but they have to know that in some instances it is not personal.”
However, when contacted for a comment, the deputy government spokesperson, Col. Shaban Bantaliza didn’t mince his words as he took a swipe at Malac for poking her nose into the country’s affairs.
“Let her be reminded that she doesn’t know our history, that from April 11, 1979 to December 10, 1980, which is a period of only two years, we got four presidents. How much did Uganda change in those years? She can start from there and speak about what she knows better about us,” Col.Bantariza said in reference to presidents Prof. Yusuf Lule, Godfrey Binaisa, Paulo Muwanga and Apollo Milton Obote II.
The deputy government spokesperson said the West should not always dictate what to be done by Uganda.
“We know Uganda better and those dictates of people who don’t know where we have come from, where we are and where we are going should be reserved for themselves.”