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Ugandan President Fears ‘Hostile Doctors’

October 5, 2003

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said Sunday he and his family travel abroad for medical treatment because he fears ``hostile doctors″ who could try to kill him.

In a letter to the independent Sunday Monitor and government-owned Sunday Vision newspapers, Museveni said that the problem with the Ugandan medical system is ``that some of the doctors are partisan.″

``I regard myself and my immediate family as a principal target for the criminal forces,″ he said.

The letter was in response to an article published by The Monitor newspaper two weeks ago that criticized Museveni for using his presidential jet to fly one of his daughters, Natasha, to Germany to give birth. His daughter-in-law, who was also pregnant, also went on the trip.

The Monitor article alleged that the flight to Germany cost Uganda $90,000, and that the women’s medical expenses were paid for by the government.

Museveni, however, said he paid for all the medical expenses and said the flight cost the state $27,000.

Museveni said getting medical treatment abroad was part of ``our survival strategy in still hostile circumstances.″

``The issue is about security given some of the hostile doctors we have in the medical system here. In spite of being in Kampala for 17 years now, I have never rushed into a clinic and had my veins pierced in order to draw my blood for examination,″ Museveni said in the letter. ``Even abroad, we take precautions.″

He said two attempts were made on his life in the 1980s when he ``reluctantly″ visited another, unidentified African leader. He gave no other details about those who might want to harm him or his family.

Onapito Ekomoloit, an adviser to Museveni, told The Associated Press that Museveni believes some Uganda doctors are among ``the best in the world,″ and blamed the security concerns on Uganda’s ``complicated political history.″

Museveni’s leadership has been increasingly criticized in recent years because of his country’s involvement in the devastating civil war in neighboring Congo. His governing National Resistance Movement has also been accused of corruption and opponents say he must allow Uganda to return to a multiparty political system.

Museveni seized power in 1986 after leading a five-year bush war. Since then, he has governed the country under a ``no-party″ political system which allows political parties to exist but severely restricts their activities, particularly recruitment and fund-raising.

Museveni is regarded as a close ally of the West; President Bush visited Uganda during his five-nation tour of Africa in July and financial assistance from Western nations and lending institutions account for more than 40 percent of Uganda’s annual budget.

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