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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 00:02 GMT
Uganda first lady enters politics
By Will Ross
BBC News, Kampala

Janet Museveni
Mrs Museveni's decision has surprised some observers
Janet Museveni, the Ugandan president's wife, is to enter politics by trying to become a member of parliament.

The National Resistance Movement (NRM) party has ended several weeks of speculation by confirming Mrs Museveni intends to run for parliament.

The seat she is after is currently held by a member of imprisoned opposition leader Kizza Besigye's party.

"By choosing to stand, she is exercising her democratic right," said Interior Minister Ruhakana Rugunda.

Mr Rugunda, who is also chair of the NRM's electoral commission, said the first lady had been nominated to take part in the NRM party's primary elections in which the parliamentary candidates will be selected.

Surprising decision

Mrs Museveni will run for the seat of Ruhama in western Uganda.

The seat is currently represented by Augustine Ruzindana of Dr Besigye's Forum For Democratic Change (FDC) party.

Our leaders are stunting the baby we have been esteeming to have in 2006
Patrick Kiyemba, Kampala

When I asked Mr Ruzindana if he could confirm that he would be standing against Mrs Museveni in the elections, he replied: "No. She will be standing against me."

He added that Mrs Museveni's team was already holding meetings in the area.

The Ugandan first lady's decision to stand for parliament has surprised some people.

Mrs Museveni is involved with charities and has been working in recent months on the HIV/Aids campaign, pushing the message of abstinence.

Although often in the public eye, she has been reluctant to give interviews recently - although that could now change.

Ballot battle

So does her likely opponent feel that it will be fair game to openly criticise the first lady come election time?

"Oh yes," says Augustine Ruzindana adding that he already had a lot of issues with her.

One of which he said was the issue of Mrs Museveni's security.

She travels with armed guards for protection.

Mr Ruzindana suggested this would not make it a free contest with the military in the constituency.

But Mr Rugunda said he expected the campaign to be a civil contest without the mud-slinging that often accompanies elections.

It is far from clear whether Mr Museveni will be facing the FDC party's candidate, Dr Besigye, with the charges of treason, rape, terrorism and the illegal possession of firearms hanging over him.

But the NRM versus FDC, Mrs Museveni versus Mr Ruzindana, promises to be one of the ballot battles to watch.


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