14 October 2003

Uganda: Museveni Threatens to Ban Circumcision

Kampala — President Yoweri Museveni has threatened to stop the cultural practice of circumcision, which he said had endangered the lives of youths through the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Museveni was on Sunday evening addressing youth leaders from the 10 eastern districts during a workshop on HIV/AIDS.

"If necessary, we can stop circumcision. I do not care about losing votes. I cannot look for votes from people who may die tomorrow after getting infected during the circumcision rituals," Museveni said.

The workshop, organised under the "Presidential Initiative on aids Strategy for Communicating with Young People, was held at Mbale secondary school.

More than 1,000 youth leaders from Kaberamaido, Soroti, Katakwi, Kumi, Busia, Tororo, Kapchorwa, Pallisa, Mbale and Sironko attended the workshop organised by the youth desk in State House and the Uganda Aids Commission.

Resource persons at the workshop included the former Big Brother Africa (BBA) housemate, Gaetano Kaggwa Juuko, and presidential advisers, Moses Byaruhanga and Dr. Jesse Kagimba, a senior presidential advisor on HIV/AIDS.

Museveni said he could be prompted to organise medically qualified personnel to carry out public circumcision to protect interests of the community where it was practiced.

He directed officials from the Uganda Aids Commission and those from the Aids control Programme to attend the circumcision ceremonies to identify dangers that it posed.

Museveni said circumcision in Bugisu and Sebei was a danger to the candidates since some 'surgeons' did not sterilise their knives in a medical manner.

Museveni added that he might be forced to avail doctors to carry out the circumcision, provided it was done in a clinical manner.

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