Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni. PHOTO/File
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni will step down in 2016 if his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party asks him to.
Museveni made the declaration Friday during an interview with the American television network, CNN. “I can leave power anytime, but if it is discussed and approved by my party,” he said.
Museveni, in power since 1986, is one of the longest-serving African leaders. He has defended his long grip on power, saying he had earned the mandate of the people through elections, although independent observers have questioned the integrity of all four elections.
The president has repeatedly passed the question of his retirement to his party, which he controls closely, but the latest declaration comes amid growing calls within the NRM for President Museveni to step down or name his departure date.
Mike Mukula, the NRM vice-chairperson in Eastern Uganda and and an MP in Soroti municipality, on Sunday said it was time for the party to openly debate the succession question.
“I think there is a growing feeling among the party members that this should be President Museveni’s last term,” Mr Mukula, who is one of the party officials who have indicated they might be interested in replacing Museveni, told the independent Daily Monitor daily.
“It is important to note that he can still serve in other capacities, among them the chairperson of the party, or when the East African political federation takes off, he can serve as its president because he would be the most experienced then for that job.”