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Updated: March 30, 2011 18:30 IST

‘Qadhafi can live in Uganda’

AP
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A woman shouts slogans in support of Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi as she carries his photo, at the Pan African Freedom Square, in Uganda capital Kampala on Tuesday. AP.
A woman shouts slogans in support of Libyan President Muammar Qadhafi as she carries his photo, at the Pan African Freedom Square, in Uganda capital Kampala on Tuesday. AP.

The spokesman for Uganda’s president, Tamale Mirundi, told the AP that Col. Qadhafi would be welcome in Uganda. He said Uganda’s policy is to accept asylum seekers, especially because so many Ugandans fled the country during the long-time rule of dictator Idi Amin

Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi is welcome to live in the East African nation of Uganda, the president’s spokesman told The Associated Press on Wednesday, in what appears to be the first country to offer him refuge.

An intense diplomatic effort is under way to find a country where Col. Gadhafi can go, as an international military effort against Col. Qadhafi’s forces continues.

The spokesman for Uganda’s president, Tamale Mirundi, told the AP that Col. Qadhafi would be welcome in Uganda. He said Uganda’s policy is to accept asylum seekers, especially because so many Ugandans fled the country during the long-time rule of dictator Idi Amin.

“So we have soft spots for asylum seekers. Qadhafi would be allowed to live here if he chooses to do so,” Mr. Mirundi said.

Another possible reason Uganda might accept Col. Qadhafi is that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is, like Col. Qadhafi, among the old guard of African leaders. Mr. Museveni has been in power for 25 years, though he won re—election in February amid signs that many Ugandans still genuinely support him.

Col. Qadhafi has been in power for more than 40 years.

Mr. Museveni had planned to travel to Libya in mid—March, but sent his foreign minister instead. Days later, Mr. Museveni issued a nine—page statement denouncing the U.S. and European military action for interfering in what he said was an internal matter. He also praised Col. Qadhafi, though he urged the Libyan leader to negotiate with the rebels.

“Whatever his faults, is a true nationalist,” Mr. Museveni said of Col. Qadhafi. “I prefer nationalists to puppets of foreign interests.”

One complicating factor to Col. Qadhafi’s living in Uganda may be the International Criminal Court, whose chief prosecutor has said he will decide by May whether to seek an indictment against Col. Qadhafi. Uganda is a signatory to the statute that created the court.

Muslims in Uganda may welcome Col. Qadhafi as well. Muslim leader Hamuza Kaduga noted that Col. Qadhafi paid for a large modern mosque in Kampala and has supported other projects.

Uganda currently hosts more than 20,000 refugees from Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea and Rwanda.

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