KAMPALA (Reuters) - Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni dared a dissident general in exile on Wednesday to try to overthrow him and said anyone seeking to use violence to seize power would be eliminated.
Museveni has come under increasing criticism for his reluctance to cede power after 27 years as president and over his alleged failure to tackle corruption in Uganda, Africa’s leading coffee exporter. He denies such allegations.
Many Ugandans say Museveni wants to hand power to his son Muhoozi Kainerugaba when the president retires.
General David Sejusa fled to London in May from his post as coordinator of Uganda’s intelligence services after writing a letter to call for an investigation into allegations of a plot to assassinate people opposed to Museveni’s succession plan.
Since then, Sejusa has said in interviews with international media that all means including force should be used to remove Museveni, who fought his way to power in 1986 after a five-year guerrilla war.
Kainerugaba heads an elite military unit charged with protecting the president and the East African country’s strategic assets, which include oil fields near the western border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“If Sejusa wants to use force, let him come. He knows my address,” Museveni told a news conference in the capital. “There’s no hope for anybody using force even on a small scale. If you try, we just extinguish you.”
The government shut two daily newspapers and two radio stations for 10 days in May after they reported on Sejusa’s letter, and Museveni replaced his military chief who had been named as one of those marked for assassination.
In the years after he came to power, Museveni was hailed for restoring the rule of law and his embrace of economic policies that attracted foreign investment and boosted growth.
More recently, opposition to his government has grown. Domestic critics accuse him of evolving into another African strongman by repressing the opposition and rigging elections. He was re-elected in 2011.
Western donors including Uganda’s biggest bilateral source of aid, Britain, suspended support late last year after allegations that $13 million worth of relief had been embezzled.
Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Mark Heinrich