Yoweri Museveni

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Museveni was viewed as part of a new generation of African leaders in the 1990s.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (born April ?1944, Ntungamo?, UgandaTemplate:Ref) has been the President of Uganda since January 29, 1986.

Museveni was involved in rebellions which toppled Ugandan leaders Idi Amin (1971-1979) and Milton Obote (1980-1985). As president since 1986, Museveni has restored relative stability to a country which has endured over two decades of continuous rebel activity and civil war. His presidency has also witnessed the most effective national response to HIV/AIDS of any African country.

His presidency has been marred, however, by involvement in civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other Great Lakes region conflicts. Recent restrictions on political pluralism and a failure to bring closure to the rebellion in the north have attracted recent concern from the international community.



Childhood and early career (1944 - 1972)

Museveni was given his surname in honour of the Seventh Battalion of the British colonial army, in which many Ugandans served during World War II.

His middle name was adopted from his stepfather, Amos Kaguta, a cattle herder whom his mother, Esteri Kokundeka, married in Ntungamo, in western Uganda. Amos Kaguta is the biological father of Museveni's half-brother Caleb Akandwanaho, popularly known in Uganda as "Salim Saleh", and also biological father of Akandwanaho's sister Violet Kajubiri Froelich.

Museveni attended the Kyamate elementary school, Mbarara High School, and Ntare School.

He went to the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania in 1967. At university between 1967 and 1970 he studied Political Science, and became involved in radical nationalist and leftist politics.

Museveni then joined the government of President Milton Obote in 1970. When Major General Idi Amin seized power in a military coup in January 1971, Museveni and a group of friends opposed to Amin fled to Tanzania.

FRONASA and the toppling of Amin (1972 - 1980)

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Museveni fought against the late President Idi Amin.

In 1972, Museveni formed the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA), a guerrilla group. In August 1973, he married Janet Kataha, a former secretary and airline stewardess with whom he would have four children.

In October 1978, President Idi Amin ordered the invaded Tanzania to claim the Kagera province for Uganda. Tanzania launched the counter-attack which led to the toppling of the Amin regime in April 1979. Museveni was named the new Minister of State for Defence by the interim UNLF government. He was the youngest minister in the new administration.

Now a relatively well-known national figure, Museveni announced his candidacy for the December 1980 general elections. Although he was a senior official in the ruling Military Commission in mid 1980, he expressed concern that the poll would be fraudulently awarded to the Uganda People's Congress party led by the deposed and exiled former president Milton Obote. The Uganda Patriotic Movement was beaten in the elections and Museveni maintained that the election had been rigged.

The war in the bush (1981 - 1986)

Museveni refused to recognise the legitimacy of the new regime, claiming the elections were marred by massive fraud. He returned with his supporters to their rural strongholds to form the Popular Resistance Army. On February 6, 1981, Museveni and a band of over 30 armed men attacked an army installation in the central Mubende district, started their guerrilla war against Obote. In June 1982, the Popular Resistance Army merged with former president Yusufu Lule's fighting group, the Uganda Freedom Army to create the National Resistance Army (NRA).

A controversial issue that dominated the five-year civil war that ensued was the claim that up to 300,000 civilians had been massacred in an area in central Uganda known as the Luwero Triangle. The Museveni-led faction called the National Resistance Army blamed the massacres on the government troops while the government blamed it on Museveni. The news of massacres and other human rights violations between 1981 and 1985 brought international criticism to the Obote government and increased support for Museveni's rebel force. Currently in exile in Zambia, former president Milton Obote has continued to blame the Luwero human rights abuses on Museveni.

Opposition parties allied with some army leaders and a few elements within the UPC began to plot a military coup in March 1985. The coup was staged on July 27 1985, ousting Obote and replacing him with his former army commander, Lieutenant-General Tito Okello. The Okello government sought to enter a peace agreement with Museveni's National Resistance Army. Accords signed in Nairobi on 17 December 1985 called for a ceasefire, demilitarisation of Kampala, integration of the NRA and government forces, and absorption of the NRA leadership into the Military Council.Template:Ref These conditions were never met, however, and the civil war resumed.

In September 1985, Museveni had courted General Mobutu of Zaire in an attempt to forestall the involvement of Zairean forces in support of Okello's military junta. On 20 January 1986, however, several hundred troops loyal to Idi Amin were accompanied into Ugandan territory by the Zairean military. The forces intervened in the civil conflict following secret training in Zaire and an appeal from Okello ten days previously.Template:Ref Mobutu's support for Okello was a score Museveni would settle years later, ordering Ugandan forces into the conflict which would finally topple the Zairean leader.

By the time Zaire intervened, however, the NRA had developed an unstoppable momentum. By the 22 January, government troops in Kampala had begun to quit their posts en-masse as the rebels gained ground from the south and south west.Template:Ref On the 25th, the Museveni-led faction finally overran the capital. The NRA toppled Okello's government and declared victory the next day, becoming the first guerrillas to conquer a country without outside help since the forces of Fidel Castro.

Museveni was sworn in as president three days later on 29 January. "This is not a mere change of guard, it is a monumental change," said Museveni after a ceremony conducted by British-born chief Justice Peter Allen. Speaking to crowds of thousands outside the Ugandan parliament, the new president promised a return to democracy and said: "The people of Africa, the people of Uganda, are entitled to a democratic government. It is not a favour from any regime. The sovereign people must be the public, not the government".Template:Ref

Museveni in power (1986 - 1996)

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Crowds throng the convoy of Museveni during the 1996 presidential election.

For the first five years in office between 1986 and 1991, the new government under Museveni enjoyed widespread international support and the economy that had been damaged by the civil war began to recover as Museveni renounced his Marxist outlook and engaged economic policies designed to combat key problems such as hyperinflation and the balance of payments. From 1990, Museveni turned his main interests to regional African affairs, serving as the chairperson of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1991 and 1992.

The plane carrying carrying President Juvenal Habyarimana and the president of Burundi, Cyprien Ntibatunganya from a summit in northern Tanzania, was shot down using two missiles over the Kigali airport on April 6, 1994. In all, an estimated 800,000 people perished in the ensuing genocide. In July 1994, the Rwandan rebels with Ugandan army support overrun Kigali and took power.

In April 1995, Uganda cut off diplomatic relations with Sudan after accusing Sudan of supporting a Ugandan rebel band, the Lord's Resistance Army, which was accused of killing and maiming civilians in the Gulu and Kitgum districts. Uganda had supported the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army. The LRA rebellion, at its height, caused the internal displacement of about 1.5 million Ugandans.

Presidential elections and a first term (1996 - 2001)

Museveni in  with .
Museveni in Washington with George W. Bush.

Uganda's first presidential elections were held on 9 May 1996. Museveni defeated Paul Ssemogerere of the Democratic Party who contested the election as the candidate of the Inter-party forces coalition, winning 75.5 percent of the vote. Voter turnout for the poll was 72.6%.

In October 1996, Rwanda and Uganda attacked Zaire in order to oust its leader, Mobutu Sese Seko, in the First Congo War. He was ousted in 1997 and Laurent Kabila installed. In January 1997, Museveni published Sowing The Mustard Seed, his memoirs. In August 1998, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Zaire again to overthrow Kabila. Troops from both countries also plundered the country's rich mineral deposits and timber.

In 2000, Rwandan and Ugandan troops who were once military allies and now deployed in the Congolese city of Kisangani, exchanged fire on three occasions, leading to tensions and a deterioration in relations between Kagame and Museveni which persisted right until May 2005. The government has also been criticized for aggravating the Ituri conflict, a sub-conflict of the Second Congo War.

Museveni has won praise from Western governments for privatising state enterprises, cutting government spending and urging African self-reliance. He permitted a free atmosphere within which the news media could operate and private FM radio stations flourished during the late 1990s. Perhaps Museveni's most notable accomplishment has been his government's successful campaign against AIDS. During the 1980s, Uganda had one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world, but now Uganda's rates are comparatively low, and the country stands as a rare success story in the global battle against the virus (see AIDS in Africa).

A second term, changing the constitution (2001 - present)

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Museveni addresses crowds gathered in Kampala to celebrate his landslide election victory in 2001.

Museveni triumphed in the 2001 presidential elections, winning nearly 70% of the vote in a contest with his former personal physician, Colonel Kizza Besigye. Political forces allied to Museveni subsequently began a campaign to slacken constitutional limits on the presidential term to allow him to stand for election again in 2006. The 1995 Ugandan constitution provided for a two-term limit on the tenure of the president. Given Uganda's history of dictatorial regimes, this check and balance was designed to prevent a dangerous centralisation of power around a long serving leader. This period has also witnessed the removal of key and influential Museveni supporters from his administration, including his childhood friend Eriya Kategaya and a cabinet minister Jaberi Bidandi Ssali.

Moves to alter the constitution and alleged attempts to suppress opposition political forces have attracted criticism from domestic commentators, the international community and Uganda's aid donors. Comments by the anti-poverty campaigner Bob Geldof sparked a protest by Museveni supporters outside the British High Commission in Kampala. "Get a grip Museveni. Your time is up, go away," said the former rock star in March 2005, explaining that moves to change the constitution were compromising Museveni's record against fighting poverty and HIV/AIDS.Template:Ref An opinion article in the Boston Globe by former US ambassador to Uganda Johnnie Carson heaped more criticism on Museveni. Despite recognising the president as a "genuine reformer" whose "leadership [has] led to stability and growth", Carson claims ominously that "we may be looking at another Mugabe and Zimbabwe in the making". "Many observers see Museveni’s efforts to amend the constitution as a re-run of a common problem that afflicts many African leaders – an unwillingness to follow Constitutional norms and give up power".Template:Ref

In May 2005, the governments of the UK and Ireland announced that they were cutting back on their foreign aid to Uganda following the arrest of two opposition MPs from the Forum for Democratic Change. Human rights campaigners charged that the arrests were politically motivated. "The arrest of these opposition MPs smacks of political opportunism," said Jemera Rone, a researcher from Human Rights Watch.Template:Ref A confidential World Bank report leaked later in the month suggested the international lender might cut its support to non-humanitarian programmes in the country. "We regret that we cannot be more positive about the present political situation in Uganda, especially given the country’s admirable record through the late 1990s", said the paper. "The Government has largely failed to integrate the country’s diverse peoples into a single political process that is viable over the long term...Perhaps most significant, the political trend-lines, as a result of the President’s apparent determination to press for a third term, point downward".Template:Ref

Museveni responded to the mounting international pressure by accusing donors of interfering with domestic politics and using aid manipulate poor countries. "Let the partners give advice and leave it to the country to decide...[developed] countries must get out of the habit of trying to use aid to dictate the management of our countries".Template:Ref "The problem with those people is not the third term or fighting corruption or multipartism," added Museveni at a meeting with other African leaders, "the problem is that they want to keep us there without growing".Template:Ref The Ugandan government has blamed the western media for spreading a negative image of the president, hiring a British public relations firm in an attempt to shore up his reputation.

Preceded by:
Tito Okello
President of Uganda
Succeeded by:
Current incumbent

Template:End box


  1. Template:Note Different biographical sources will commonly list various birthplaces for Museveni due to reorganisation of districts in Uganda. In 1944, there were four provinces one of which was Western, encompassing Museveni's birthplace. By 1966, there were 19 administrative divisions, including the Ankole kingdom. In 1976, the districts became provinces. Southern province encompassed both Ankole and Kigezi and had Mbarara as a capital. In 1989, the 10 provinces were reorganized into 33 districts, one of which was Mbarara, and in 1994 the district of Ntungamo was formed from parts of Mbarara and Bushenyi. Museveni's birthplace has fallen, at various times, in administrative regions known as Western, Ankole, Southern, Mbarara and Ntungamo, without any contradiction. The article is reflecting the most recent region, Ntungamo. (Source: Statoids (http://statoids.com/uug.html)).
  2. Template:Note "Kampala troops flee guerrilla attacks", The Times, 23 January 1986
  3. Template:Note "Troops from Zaire step up Uganda civil war", The Guardian, 21 January 1986
  4. Template:Note "Kampala troops flee guerrilla attacks", The Times, 23 January 1986
  5. Template:Note "Museveni sworn in as President", The Times, 30 January 1986
  6. Template:Note "Ugandans march against Bob Geldof" (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4371265.stm), BBC News, 22 March 2005
  7. Template:Note "A threat to Africa's success story" (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/05/01/a_threat_to_africas_success_story/), Johnnie Carson, Boston Globe, 1 May 2005
  8. Template:Note "Uganda: Key Opposition MPs Arrested" (http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/HRW/4261707c6d43856f29fa691a32ab4652.htm), Human Rights Watch, 27 April 2005
  9. Template:Note "World Bank may cut aid" (http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/435022), Paul Busharizi, New Vision, 17 May 2005
  10. Template:Note "Museveni advises donors" (http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/436513), New Vision, 27 May 2005
  11. Template:Note "Donors Fear Me, Says Museveni" (http://allafrica.com/stories/200505260253.html), Frank Nyakairu, The Monitor, 26 May 2005


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