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Yoweri K. Museveni: The 40 year stretch


Supporters, critics, analysts speak out on the next five years

Kampala, Uganda | IAN KATUSIIME | On May 12 President Yoweri Museveni raised the Bible in his right hand to take the presidential oath for the seventh time.

While giving his inauguration speech to a crowd of an estimated 4000 guests, the President’s mood oscillated from combative to ecstatic as he sought to sound nationalistic.

Museveni cut protocol short and skipped the official welcome of the eight heads of state who attended his swearing in ceremony at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds and some of the guests; including newly elected MPs were relegated far away from the main proceedings. It was in observance of COVID-19 induced Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) but a few grumbled.

Meanwhile, Museveni appeared to be sharply focused on getting the symbolic two sentence oath that the Chief Justice Alphonse Owiny-Dollo administered, out of the way as quickly as possible. And when he did, his message was terse: “Elections are over; let us get down to work.”

That came as he concluded his speech but many of his listeners who spoke to The Independent said they hope its briskness signals a new direction as the guerilla leader who captured power in 1986 enters the fortieth year stretch of his rule.

For erstwhile supporters of Museveni like Lewis Rubongoya, the swearing in events were anything but a celebration.

“As a former supporter, it pains me so much that someone I once held in high regard has resorted to panda gari (brutal arrests in Obote II era).

Rubongoya is the secretary general of the new main opposition party, the National Unity Platform (NUP) headed by youthful music superstar and out-going Kyadondo East MP Robert Ssentamu Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine. He is someone who can be described as head of Bobi Wine’s technical team.

A former lecturer of Bobi Wine at International University of East Africa in Kampala, Rubongoya voted Museveni in the 2016 elections but had a quick turn around after he cultivated a relationship with the singer-turned politician the same year.

As Rubongoya and Bobi Wine prepare their MPs for new roles in parliament as the dominant opposition party, Rubongoya says the struggle against Museveni is not over simply because the election cycle is done.

“Our style is struggle and that is our life. We face inevitable challenges but we are not about to stop or give up.” Rubongoya says to The Independent. “The election was rigged, I don’t know where we are headed,” he says.

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