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20 July 2016

Ugandans poke fun at president’s phone call stop

MuseveniThis photo of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, chatting on the phone while sitting on a chair on the side of a village road, has raised questions – such as whether the cowboy hat-wearing leader was pulling off a cheap publicity stunt or was dealing with urgent matters of national importance.

The photo was released by his press officer Don Wanyama who said on Facebook that his 71-year-old boss had stopped his motorcade to make the 30-minute call while returning from World Population Day celebrations in remote western Uganda on Monday.

He does not say why the call had to be made from a roadside chair – with an accompanying desk – but Ugandans have offered their own explanations on Twitter.

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Others wondered who was on the other end of the line – his wife Janet or another long-serving ruler, Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe?

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@Samzen thinks the conversation was with someone in his government, and it revolved around opposition leader Kizza Besigye who was charged with treason after denouncing Mr Museveni’s victory in elections in February as fraudulent.

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Perhaps, though, the call was not all that important as the president had time to wave at a passing motorist.

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And as he said in a Facebook post, he had a “brief chat” with the residents of Kyeirumba Village during the stopover.

“They thanked the government for tarmacking the road that connects Uganda to Tanzania through Isingiro,” Mr Museveni said.

“The residents also asked that government engages solar panel distributors to reduce cost. We shall follow up on this,” he added.

On Twitter, @chrisatuk pictured Mr Museveni in better company, with men who use straws to drink a home-made brew, which has water mixed into it, from a communal pot. He mocks the president for pronouncing the letter l as r, and plays on the fact that when men intend to go and drink they say: “I am going to telephone.”

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For another tweeter, the Ugandan leader was in a far more exotic place.

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Others were wondering whether Zimbabwe’s 92-year-old leader, who looks increasingly frail and struggles to walk, would follow suit when he is travelling through his country.

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