Sunday, February 7, 2016

Uganda's Yoweri Museveni in profile

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni is a driven man.President Yoweri Museveni
Having been involved in toppling two presidents as well as running the country for 25 years, he believes he is the only person to lead Uganda.
Ahead of February's polls, he tried to reinvent himself - especially with the youth in mind - and released his own rap.
It was called Do You Want Another Rap? but it really meant I Want Another Term.
His wish was granted, beating for a third time his main rival, Kizza Besigye, with 68% of the vote.
In 2001, he had said he would stand down at the next election and one of his tasks would be to choose a successor.
But he obviously changed his mind and had the constitution amended to let him run for a third term in office in 2006.
That was the first time he allowed multi-party elections but the outcome was little different.
What has changed is the attitude of Western donors.
Mr Museveni was once feted as someone the West could do business with - one of the new generation of Africa leaders to replace the "Big Men" - the independence leaders who clung to power for as long as they possibly could.
But his critics say Mr Museveni has become just another "Big Man".
Ahead of the 2006 vote, Dr Besigye was accused of treason and rape - charges he maintains were politically motivated and which the courts have since dismissed.
After this year's polls, he has been arrested four times, often in a brutal manner, for involvement in "walk-to-work" protests over the rises in the cost of food and fuel.
Mr Museveni's government accuses Dr Besigye, who once served as the president's physician when they were fighting President Milton Obote's government in the early 1980s, of trying to organise an Egypt-style uprising.
The UK has cut some of its aid in response to concerns about the future of Ugandan democracy.
The mood of the donors was captured by rock-star-turned-campaigner Sir Bob Geldof's outburst at the 2005 launch of the African Commission report: "Get a grip Museveni. Your time is up, go away," he said.
But oil has now been discovered in Uganda, prompting Mr Museveni to say Uganda would soon be able to do without the pesky donors.
He told the Kampala Post this year that one of his goals was to "liberate ourselves from foreign control".

Idi Amin

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni was born in 1944 into a family of cattle keepers in Ankole, western Uganda.
His name was taken from the Abasuveni - the Ugandan servicemen in the Seventh Regiment of the King's African Rifles.
He says in his biography - which tells much about his political development and almost nothing about his personal life - that he became politically aware while still a secondary school student.
He later went to the University of Dar es Salaam and studied Economics and Political Science, and while there forged alliances with other politically active "revolutionaries" from around the region.
Mr Museveni's political career took off in the 1970s, after a coup by the notorious Idi Amin.
He helped form the Front for National Salvation which was one of the rebel groups that, backed by Tanzania, ousted Amin from power.
Mr Museveni served as minister in the new government but then claimed that the 1980 elections were rigged.
On 6 February 1981, Mr Museveni went into the bush, and launched a guerrilla struggle based in the swamps of central Uganda.
His National Resistance Army eventually took power in January 1986 and introduced the Movement system of politics - described as a broad-based, alternate system of democracy in which people compete for political office on individual merit.
Mr Museveni argued that political party activity split underdeveloped countries like Uganda along ethnic and religious lines.
Over the next 10 years, Mr Museveni became a darling of the West.
Uganda's economy began to grow steadily and has seen an annual average growth of over 5%. Its commitment to tackle poverty has been hailed.
Primary school education enrolment has doubled, HIV levels have dropped because of an impressive anti-Aids campaign spearheaded by the president.
Mr Museveni also began carving out a position as an African statesman, with 1998 proving his highest point.
He was visited by US President Bill Clinton and described as the head of a new breed of African leaders.


That image, however, soon began to crumble when Uganda and Rwanda invaded neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in support of rebels fighting to overthrow the government.
Troops from Uganda and Rwanda fought each other in DR Congo, with Congolese civilians paying the price.
Both armies were accused of looting DR Congo's rich mineral resources.
Uganda's involvement in the war damaged Mr Museveni's reputation at home and abroad. It also took up much of his time.
During this period there were increasing complaints that Mr Museveni was growing more hard-line and relying increasingly on a kitchen cabinet of hard-line supporters.
His 2001 presidential election victory was marred by an increase in state-sponsored violence - and Dr Besigye, again his main rival, fled the country claiming his life was in danger.

'New battles'

Critics say Mr Museveni has become less tolerant of opposing views, and his language has become more combative.
In June 2004, the government lost a ruling in the Constitutional Court, he appeared on state television and lambasted the judges.
The force of the president's convictions is both his strength, as it enables him to get things done, and his weakness, as it has led him to find it increasingly hard to brook opposition.
Corruption remains a serious problem in Uganda and Mr Museveni has faced criticism for not taking a stronger line.
Ugandan soldiers training
Image captionMuseveni has been accused of only pursuing military options
The Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria has suspended some grants to Uganda, citing alleged financial mismanagement.
Some now criticise his Aids policy, saying that under the influence of US evangelical Christians, condoms are no longer being promoted.
The president's stance against Lord's Resistance Army rebels in the north is also criticised, with an emphasis on military action rather than negotiation.
He has also vowed to use military force to crush Somalia's al-Shabab Islamists after they planted bombs in venues in Kampala, where people were watching the 2010 World Cup football final on TV, in revenge for Ugandan support for Somalia's UN-backed government.
But Mr Museveni has officially retired from the army to fight "new battles".
He told theKampala Post this year that he wanted to leave two things as his legacy:
  • The socio-economic transformation of Uganda - turning the country into a first world country
  • An East African Federation.
"East Africa would ensure the future of the black people more than just Uganda," he told the Kampala Post.
"Uganda is going to develop, Uganda is going to become a modern country - but a small one," he said.
There has been speculation that he would like to become the first leader of a united East Africa.
But as he is inaugurated for another five-year term, State House will remain his address - and any thoughts of possible retirement to his cattle farm in Rwakitura, south-western Uganda, have been firmly shelved.
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