Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

Ugandan president's cows for sale

Yoweri Museveni
President Museveni often shows his cattle to visitors

The Ugandan government is selling off dozens of animals donated as gifts to President Yoweri Museveni.

The money raised from the auction of the cattle, sheep and goats will be spent on government projects.

Some Ugandans are concerned that animals given as gifts to the president are being sold in this way.

But the sale is appropriate because they belong to the state, not the president himself, says the presidential spokesman.

The 117 cattle, 26 sheep and 10 goats are to be sold at an auction planned for Thursday 19 February.

Love for cattle

"Upon instruction from the State House Controller, we shall sell old cattle, sheep and goats belonging to State House," said an advert in The New Vision newspaper.

The advanced age of the animals means it is unlikely they will fetch the top prices.

"The upcoming auction is in the best practices of animal husbandry which require that herds are periodically culled and older stock removed," said presidential spokesman Fred Opolot.

Livestock, especially cattle, are very important in Ugandan society.

They are dear to the heart of Mr Museveni, and visitors to his ranch are often treated to a viewing of his herds.

Cattle are considered a key symbol of wealth, especially in south-western Uganda where the president comes from.

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