Today (January 26, 2016) marks President Yoweri Museveni’s uninterrupted 30-year reign over Uganda since he took power in 1986.
Notwithstanding his prolonged rule, President Museveni, could be getting another term, after he announced his plans to run in the upcoming elections. He announced this in November 2015 where he unveiled his 2016-2021 manifesto.
Reports on the ground indicate that his lengthy rule could be attributed to the fact that Ugandan’s fear violent transition and chose to remain with Mr Museveni due to his ability to retain the country’s stability over the years.
Not everyone is in support of his leadership though. His opponents, some, who are also vying for the candidacy come February 18 election, strongly feel the post-independence turmoil has affected citizens’ judgement due to fear of a repeat of such violence in case of change in leadership.
Speaking to the Daily Monitor, Maj Gen (rtd) Benon Biraro, said Mr Museveni’s long stay is solely down to his ensuring of security, especially in the latter years of his rule.
Biraro, who is contesting for presidency under the Farmers Party of Uganda was once a member of NRM and even took part in the bush war that brought the ruling government to power but has since fallen out with the regime.
According to Biraro Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), previously National Resistance Army, is the reason why President Museveni has remained in power.
“The UPDF. That is all. It is not the economy, it is not democracy,” he said adding that UPDF is what has saved Museveni because all past regimes had problems with the armed forces. Museveni was able to bring and maintain change and a new perspective to the armed force. “People say twebaka otulo [we sleep],” he argued.
Further, the local media spoke to Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) presidential candidate’s spokesman Semujju Nganda who spoke on behalf of Kizza Besigye. Nganda reiterated Biraro’s argument saying that the frenzied times experienced in Uganda before 1986 has pushed Ugandans into a state of depression.
“Museveni seized power when Uganda had gone through a lot of turbulence and people were tired and willing to put up with anything that was better than what they had seen. And at the same time, Museveni came in at a time when armed rebellions were becoming outdated and people thought that maybe he could be voted out through elections,” Mr Semujju said.
Contrary to other people’s arguments, former premier Amama Mbabazi, sent his congratulatory message to NRM on their 30th anniversary adding that the day “renews the faith”. “I congratulate the NRM on its anniversary and it just renews our faith in what we stood for,” Mr Mbabazi said.
According to an independent candidate Venansius Baryamureeba, the ban extended to political parties in the early 1990s helped Mr Museveni establish himself. He also attributed Museveni’s long stay to the role played by the army.
“One thing is that when he came, he killed all the political parties and put them in the Movement which he had total control over. He has also had total control over the army,” Mr Baryamureeba claimed.
Ideologies from some other candidates like Mr Joseph Mabirizi are not based on the army or political parties control. According to Mabirizi, who is running as the candidate for The Independents’ Coalition - alongside Maureen Kyalya, the head of state is dishonest. He also called for a restoration of term limits.