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Photo by: New York Times

Northern Irish doctor elected to office in Uganda

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Photo by: New York Times

Read more: Northern Irishman running for political seat in Uganda

A Northern Irish doctor has become the first ever foreigner to be elected to public office in Uganda.

Ian Clarke originally came to Uganda as a missionary at the end of the civil war. The 59-year-old, who grew up on a farm in Northern Ireland, won more than double the votes of his nearest rival in the recent elections.

"I realized that some other candidates were trying to stir up the race card and the colonial thing, saying outlandish stuff," he told Reuters.

"But there was an understanding that I'd been here a long time and had started a lot of social programs. I wasn't running for the good of my health."

The physician decided to enter into the race for office after writing a newspaper column for the past few years in which he regularly criticized politicians on issues such as corruption.

"I could either be a talking head or I could do something,” he said.

Clarke will now serve as chairman of Makindye, one of the largest of Kampala’s five district councils.

The independent candidate is well known in the district as the wealthy owner of the city’s top private hospitals.

"I certainly didn't campaign on that," Clarke says. "The fact that I was a muzungu (a white) was part of the package. I think if I was some random white guy I would have been laughed out the place. It was different because I have a track record."

Read more: Northern Irishman running for political seat in Uganda

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