Home News Uganda elections 2021: How ex-rebel Yoweri Museveni has stayed in energy for...

Uganda elections 2021: How ex-rebel Yoweri Museveni has stayed in energy for 35 years

By Endurance Atuhaire
BBC Information, Kampala

picture copyrightGetty Photographs

Ugandans beneath the age of 35 – and that’s greater than three-quarters of the inhabitants – have solely identified one president.

Yoweri Museveni, who got here to energy on the again of an armed rebellion in 1986, has defied the political legal guidelines of gravity which have felled different long-serving leaders within the area.

The 76-year-old’s time on the prime has been accompanied by an extended interval of peace and massive developmental adjustments for which many are grateful. However he has managed to keep up his grip on energy by way of a mix of encouraging a persona cult, using patronage, compromising unbiased establishments and sidelining opponents.

Over the past election 5 years in the past when he addressed the problem of him stepping down, he requested: “How can I’m going out of a banana plantation I’ve planted that has began bearing fruits?”

For this revolutionary the harvest continues to be not over.

media caption5 issues it’s best to find out about Uganda’s elections

My introduction to the president got here within the Nineties within the type of a faculty play through which the turbulence of the Milton Obote and Idi Amin years was acted out.

The piece climaxed on 26 January 1986, with Mr Museveni’s Nationwide Resistance Military liberating the nation, bringing an finish to wars and mindless killings.

It’s this picture of the person as liberator and peace-bringer that many Ugandans have been raised on, and are reminded of at each alternative.

Presidential press-ups

He’s additionally a fatherly and grandfatherly determine.

Many younger Ugandans consult with the president by the nickname “Sevo”, and he fondly calls them Bazukulu (which means grandchildren within the Luganda language).

However the household man doesn’t see himself as a typical ageing patriarch, reclining in his favorite chair together with his kids and grandchildren fussing round.

In his marketing campaign for his sixth elected time period in workplace, which feels prefer it began straight after the final election, he has been traversing the nation, launching factories, opening roads and new markets.

And with a watch on his comparatively youthful challenger, 38-year-old former pop star Bobi Wine, Mr Museveni has been eager to point out his vitality. Final April, to encourage train throughout lockdown he was filmed doing press-ups, after which repeated the trick a number of instances together with in entrance of cheering college students in November.

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“In case your father loves you, he has to empower you. Within the subsequent 5 years, ‘Sevo’ will be sure that after we end college, we’re in a position to get jobs,” 25-year-old Angela Kirabo says, pertaining to the problem of youth unemployment, which is a significant supply of concern.

The economics graduate is a proud Muzukulu (grandchild), having grown up in a household supporting the governing Nationwide Resistance Motion (NRM). She additionally served as vice-chairperson of the celebration’s chapter at college and thinks the president nonetheless has loads to supply after 35 years in energy.

Presidential age limits overturned

Certainly one of his closest associates and advisors, John Nagenda, says Mr Museveni’s selflessness is one cause for his potential to encourage loyalty.

“He was ready to die for Uganda. I might say that we’re very fortunate to have him,” the 82-year-old says.

“Many of the different those that I do know who’ve been presidents, they wished to do it for themselves; they wished the glory. However Museveni desires to do [it] for the nation and continent… he’s an Africanist.”

A woman in a mask in front of a mural


Uganda’s common election

14 January 2021

  • 11candidates are operating for president

  • 1of the candidates is a lady, Nancy Kalembe

  • 5elected phrases to date for Yoweri Museveni

  • 50% plus 1votes wanted for a candidate to keep away from a run-off election

  • 529MPs can even be elected

Supply: Uganda electoral fee

However beneath the unique clauses of the 1995 structure the president shouldn’t have run for workplace once more after 2005.

Certainly, earlier than then it was extensively understood that he was in opposition to staying on in energy, dismissing queries in regards to the thought, saying that he would slightly return to his farm.

Journalist William Pike, who at one time was seen as very near the president and the NRA, described in his memoir how the president was genuinely upset when requested at a dinner within the early Nineties whether or not he wished to remain in energy for the remainder of his life.

“Museveni mentioned: ‘After all not’, however he was clearly livid at what he thought-about an actual insult. He was not faking it. At that stage he actually was not intending to remain on in energy,” Mr Pike wrote.

However one thing modified his thoughts in 2004, although it has by no means been clear what precisely that was, and his MPs endorsed the concept the structure must be amended to take away presidential time period limits.

He had the inexperienced mild to face till he reached 75 years of age.

media captionChairs had been thrown throughout the debate in parliament

After which in December 2017, the constitutional impediment of an age restrict for a presidential candidate was additionally eliminated – a problem which led to brawls on the ground of parliament and a police raid on the constructing.

Many noticed this because the NRM’s strategy to permit Mr Museveni to develop into president for all times.

It isn’t for nothing that parliament felt compelled to reward the long-serving chief. The willingness of MPs to go together with the adjustments has loads to do with the truth that they felt they owed their positions to the president.

Fewer challenges to authority

The importance of patronage extends proper by way of society.

It typically manifests as growth programmes for girls, market distributors and authorities jobs. In a rustic the place 15% of younger persons are unemployed and over 21% of the inhabitants dwell in poverty, aligning with the correct celebration can save a whole village from destitution.

However his supporters level to the transformation of Uganda as a optimistic cause to offer Mr Museveni 5 extra years.

“Should you come from the north and east you’ll perceive {that a} large achievement of peace has been introduced. For 20 years these areas had been engulfed in warfare,” says 28-year-old Jacob Eyeru, who leads the federal government’s Nationwide Youth Council.

Whereas acknowledging that joblessness is a fear, he provides that the NRM has “reworked the economic system to make it not simply regionally aggressive but additionally globally aggressive”.

picture copyrightGetty Photographs
picture captionMr Museveni’s supporters consider he nonetheless has loads to supply

Regardless of these adjustments he has additionally weakened the independence of a few of the nation’s key establishments to make sure fewer challenges to his authority.

The judiciary has not been spared, and in recent times has been accused of recruiting so-called “cadre judges”, who’re loyal to the federal government.

When judges have taken unbiased choices, they’ve typically discovered themselves at loggerheads with the authorities.

For instance, on 16 December 2005, extremely skilled armed safety personnel raided the Excessive Courtroom within the capital, Kampala, and re-arrested members of the suspected insurgent Folks’s Redemption Military, who had simply been acquitted of treason fees.

“They turned the Temple of Serenity right into a theatre of warfare,” Justice James Ogoola wrote in a poem in regards to the incident entitled Rape of the Temple.

Relating to difficult election outcomes, the result of each presidential race, besides the 2011 one, has been contested in court docket. In all instances, the courts dominated that the irregularities weren’t severe sufficient to warrant an annulment.

media captionPresident Yoweri Museveni and singer Bobi Wine are combating for Uganda’s youth vote

The media has additionally had its independence threatened.

On the floor, Uganda has a vigorous media trade which has grown to a whole lot of personal radio and TV stations, print retailers, and internet-based companies beneath Mr Museveni.

“Within the early days, earlier than cynicism and decay set in, there was a strand of intellectualism throughout the regime that tolerated dissenting views and was in a position to debate and disagree with them,” says Daniel Kalinaki, the Nation Media Group’s Normal Supervisor for Editorial, in Kampala.

However retailers have been raided and journalists detained, because the main lights within the authorities have develop into “more and more thin-skinned”, Mr Kalinaki provides.

However maybe essentially the most vital think about Mr Museveni’s longevity is the way in which that any potential opposition drive has been neutered.

Opposition supporters shot lifeless

Because it turned clear 20 years in the past that he was going to remain in energy, a few of his former associates began to interrupt away. As they did, the safety forces, touted as a individuals’s police and armed forces, turned their weapons on these political opponents.

Kizza Besigye of the opposition Discussion board for Democratic Change, as soon as Mr Museveni’s doctor, first ran in opposition to him within the 2001 election. He has been detained and prosecuted on quite a few fees, together with rape and treason, however has by no means been convicted.

picture copyrightGetty Photographs
picture captionPresidential candidate Bobi Wine has proved a well-liked draw for a lot of younger voters

Now that Bobi Wine, a singer whose actual title is Robert Kyagulanyi, is mounting a severe problem to the president’s rule, he has develop into the newest politician to face the wrath of the boys in uniform.

The MP, whose star energy attracts enormous crowds of younger individuals, was brutally arrested throughout a colleague’s by-election marketing campaign within the north-western city of Arua in 2018. He then confronted treason fees which had been later dropped.

On the marketing campaign path for this election, the police have arrested, tear-gassed and shot at him and his supporters for defying coronavirus restrictions on the gathering of huge teams.

Throughout two days of protests in November following Bobi Wine’s arrest, 54 individuals had been killed, lots of them believed to have been shot by the safety forces.

Sticking your head above the parapet in Uganda is a courageous alternative and anybody who seeks to problem Mr Museveni must be in little doubt in regards to the stage of harassment that they’re prone to face.

By his 35 years in cost, he has come to take a seat on the apex of energy the place he’s in whole management. He has additionally managed to reinvent himself.

Whereas he was as soon as the political upstart in his early 40s, anybody taking over that position now dangers incurring his appreciable wrath.

Associated Subjects

  • Yoweri Museveni

  • Uganda


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