Yoweri Museveni has been President of Uganda for 34 years. Now, the 76-year old is standing for re-election again on Thursday.
Museveni was born to cattle farmers and attended missionary schools. While studying political science and economics at the University of Dar es Salaam (B.A., 1970) in Tanzania, he became chairman of a leftist student group allied with African liberation movements.
When Idi Amin came to power in Uganda in 1971, Museveni returned to Tanzania in exile. There he founded the Front for National Salvation, which helped overthrow Amin in 1979.
The former rebel leader is a veteran state leader, but he still doesn’t shy away from using bellicose rhetoric. When Bobi Wine, a popular contender for the presidency, was arrested on the campaign trail in November 2020 — resulting in mass protests and dozens of deaths among Wine’s supporters — Museveni spoke like a true autocrat: “They have entered a space we are very familiar with, that of struggle,” he said.
Museveni has always enjoyed making grand and controversial pronouncements. Before he became president, however, the message was much different.
Museveni presented himself as an innovator and argued against presidents unwilling to give up office. After many years as a rebel leader, he seized power in 1986, ending a period of bloody civil wars in his homeland. Initially, he brought peace and economic prosperity to Uganda.
When Museveni lifted the age limit for presidents in 2017/18 with another constitutional amendment, paving the way for his election campaign, the tide firmly turned: the younger generation no longer saw Museveni, the only president they had ever known, as unavoidable.
Since 2017, they have rallied behind 38-year-old Robert Kyagulanyi, a former pop star better known as Bobi Wine.
Corruption, however, was an issue in Uganda under Museveni. Over the years, foreign and domestic support for Museveni waned in some quarters, with corruption being cited as one of the problems; Museveni’s growing intolerance with dissenting views was another commonly cited criticism.
Museveni is on the verge of winning the election on Thursday, January 14, 2021, which will increase his year j office as president to 28 years.
Watch What He Said In His Interview With CNN