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Church leaders in Uganda praying for strongman to go
Question of the Day
KAMPALA, Uganda — Influential church leaders are calling for an end to the 26-year rule of President Yoweri Museveni, who is resisting efforts to restore term limits on his office and is facing record-low public-approval ratings.
“The best present Museveni can give to Ugandans in 2016 is peacefully handing over power,” he said at an Easter Mass.
Zac Niringiye, an assistant Anglican bishop in Kampala, has been crisscrossing the eastern African nation, seeking support for the restoration of term limits that were scrapped in 2005.
“The time has come to imagine a different future,” said Bishop Niringiye, who added that his life has been threatened since he started his campaign for term limits.
“I hear security forces are plotting against me, but this is part of God’s ministry,” he said.
Christians make up more than 80 percent of the population of 36 million, but Muslims, who compose only 12 percent, have also complained that Mr. Museveni has been meddling in Islamic affairs.
The criticism from the prominent religious leaders is reflecting the feelings of a growing number of Ugandans dissatisfied with more than a quarter century under Mr. Museveni.
A recent public opinion poll found that 74 percent of Ugandans think the country is heading in the wrong direction one year after Mr. Museveni was re-elected.
Inflation has soared to more than 20 percent. Police have killed unarmed protesters in demonstrations, and some of the president’s closest associates have been accused of corruption but sheltered from prosecution.
The combination of criticism from religious leaders and the decline in popularity has the Museveni regime on the defensive.
Mr. Museveni, in a television interview last week, warned the church officials: “When you go in public [to criticize the government], I will one day also give you a counter-lecture.”
Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi recently told the religious critics that they are as ill-equipped to get involved in politics as “a doctor [is] to assume a role of a teacher.”
Mr. Museveni came to power in 1986, after years of guerrilla warfare that first overthrew dictator Idi Amin and later Milton Obote. He created a transitional government and established stability after years of civil strife.
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