Pressure on senate to honour Gaddafi

February 15, 2002

Colonel Muammar el Gaddafi's word may be final in Libya, but in Uganda a decision as to whether he should hold a doctorate of law at Makerere University is subject to a senate vote.

University authorities, under pressure from Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to honour his friend and ally, are said to be opposed to awarding a doctorate of law to the Libyan president. But they may have little choice in the matter.

Already, rules of secret voting have been breached, with members having to sign against their ballots.

At stake for the university could be a large grant within the gift of Tripoli, rumoured to be waiting the award of the degree. The money would go a long way towards stimulating research and infrastructure development at the university.

Colonel Gaddafi has been Mr Museveni's unflinching ally for the 16 years that Mr Museveni has been head of state. His role in Uganda's history is not without controversy. During the 1970s, he was also Idi Amin's ally. When the Ugandan exile army, of which Mr Museveni was a commander, stormed Kampala to oust Amin in 1979, Colonel Gaddafi sent arms and men to defend the dictator.

Colonel Gaddafi should have received his degree from Makerere in October 2001, but the university, said to be fearful of harming its reputation, delayed the award. The renewed pressure coincides with the university's 41st graduation ceremony in April this year.

Now the decision has been put to a vote, and although contrary to rules, it will be known who voted for or against.

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