Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has ridiculed the country's first presidential election debate saying it was akin to a high school competition.
Museveni, who will be seeing another term in presidential elections, next month, boycotted the debate that featured seven of his opponents on January 15. He described the debate as childish in a press conference in Kampala on Monday.
He had a duty of attending the debate and explain the untenable policies he has allegedly fostered during his protracted presidency
"The debate reminded me days at Ntare high school where we usually visited neighborhood schools [...] for debates," Museveni said. "I wonder how adults go into a debate like students."
The jibe angered opposition leader, including his long-time foe Kizza Besigye of Forum for Democratic Change who said the president had a duty to take part in the debate and respond to questions about his policies.
"Museveni's comment about the debate is unfortunate," Besigye said. "He had a duty of attending the debate and explain the untenable policies he has allegedly fostered during his protracted presidency".
Besigye had pulled out of the debate after reports emerged that Museveni would not take part but changed his heart after organisers assured him the president would attend.
Joseph Balikudembe, an opposition MP said Museveni should have attended to show Ugandans can debate issues openly even if they belonged to different political parties.
"[Museveni] should attend such debates to give children the impression that debating issues instead of fighting is the best way of solving differences," he said.
The televised presidential debate attracted a lot interest from ordinary Ugandans.
Initially, reports had indicated that Museveni would not be part of the debate because he had a tight campaign schedule. However, a spokesperson for the ruling National Resistance Movement Ofwono Opondo told The New Vision Newspaper that Museveni pulled out of the debate because it was "sponsored by western donors to embarrass" the president.
Uganda's presidential and parliamentary polls are set to take place on 18 February and four-time president, Museveni is widely expected to win.