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Seven candidates turn up for presidency

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd October 2010 03:00 AM

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has stood out as a liberator to many, although at the same breath many have viewed him as an oppressor.

By Milton Olupot

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has stood out as a liberator to many, although at the same breath many have viewed him as an oppressor.

Since the late 1960s, while an economics student at Dar es Saalam University, he got involved in radical pan-African politics, he has never looked back.

He formed the University Students’ African Revolutionary Front activist group and led a student delegation to FRELIMO territory in Mozambique, where he received guerrilla training.

Museveni, 66, grew up in Ntungamo in south-west Uganda. Born to Amos Kaguta, a world war II veteran and a cattle herder, he attended Kyamate Elementary School, Mbarara High School and Ntare School.

In 1967, he went to the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, where he studied economics and political science.

Museveni has been a non alcoholic all his life. He has on many occasions recounted his 1966 experience with alcohol when his cousin lured him to have a taste of alcohol but the sourness of beer and the fire-like tinge of whisky made him resolve never to take alcohol again. Today the president is a critic of alcohol consumers. While at Ntare School, Museveni became a Born-again Christian and even led the school’s scripture union.

After studies in 1970, Museveni joined the intelligence service of Ugandan President Milton Obote. When Maj. Gen. Idi Amin seized power in a January 1971, he fled to Tanzania with other exiles.

Museveni briefly worked as a lecturer at a co-operative college in Moshi, in northern Tanzania, before breaking away from the mainstream opposition and forming the Front for National Salvation (FRONASA) in 1973.

In August of the same year, he married Janet Kataha, a former secretary and airline stewardess with whom he would have four children.

When Amin invaded Tanzania in 1978, the UNLF joined forces with the Tanzanian army to launch a counter-attack, which culminated in the toppling of the Amin regime in April 1979. Museveni was named Minister of State for Defence in the new UNLF government. He was the youngest minister in Lule’s cabinet.

The thousands of troops which Museveni recruited into FRONASA during the war were incorporated into the new national army. They however, retained their loyalty to him and would be crucial in later rebellions against Obote.

Museveni was dropped by Godfrey Binaisa from the defence ministry to the regional cooperation portfolio, with Binaisa himself taking defence.

In May 1980, he was part of a de facto coup led by Paulo Muwanga that deposed Binaisa after an attempt to dismiss Oyite Ojok, the army chief of staff. A Presidential Commission was set up with Museveni as Vice-Chairman.

When the elections came in 1980, Museveni formed a new political party, the Uganda Patriotic Movement (UPM), which he led in the elections, competing against Obote’s Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), the Conservative Party (CP); the Democratic Party (DP). The official results declared UPC the winner with Museveni’s UPM gaining one of the 126 seats. He cried foul and in the 1981 formed the Popular Resistance Army (PRA), which later merged with former president Yusufu Lule’s fighting group, the Uganda Freedom Fighters (UFF), to create the National Resistance Army (NRA) with its political wing, the National Resistance Movement (NRM) to fight Obote’s regime.

On 27 July 1985, sub-factionalism within the UPC government led to a coup against Obote by his former army commander, Tito Okello Lutwa.

On January 25th 1986, the rebels overran the capital, and declared victory the next day.

Museveni was sworn in as president three days later on 29 January. “This is not a mere change of guard, it is a fundamental change,” said Museveni after a ceremony conducted by British-born Chief Justice, Peter Allen.

Speaking to crowds outside the Parliament, Museveni promised a return to democracy and said: “The people of Uganda, are entitled to a democratic government. It is not a favour from any regime.”

Museveni initiated economic policies designed to combat key problems such as hyperinflation and the balance of payments. Museveni embraced the neoliberal adjustments advocated by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The first presidential elections under Museveni were held on May 9, 1996. Museveni defeated Paul Ssemogerere of the Democratic Party and the upstart candidate, Mohamed Mayanja, with 75.5 per cent of the vote and sworn in as president for the second time on 12 May 1996.

The main weapon in Museveni’s campaign was the restoration of security and economic normality to much of the country.

Museveni’s fluency in English, Luganda, Runyankole and Swahili is another useful tool to his credit.

The second national elections were held in 2001. Museveni trounced his rival Besigye with 69% of the vote. Besigye had been Museveni’s confidant and his bush war physician.

The election culminated into a petition filed by Besigye at the Supreme Court of Uganda. The court ruled that the elections were not free and fair but declined to nullify the outcome.

In 2006 again Museveni again beat Besigye scoring 59% of the vote, but the vote was contested by Besigye and by a 4:3 Judges’ decision, the result was upheld.

Museveni was elected chairperson of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1991 and 1992.

Perhaps Museveni’s most widely noted accomplishment has been his government’s successful campaign against AIDS.

In 2007, Museveni deployed troops to the African Union’s peacekeeping mission in Somalia. Before that he supported the Rwandese RPF return to Kigali, Laurent Kabila to dethrone Mubutu Seseseko, and the Southern Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) beat off the Khartoum regime from Southern Sudan and establish a government in Juba.

Museveni has a fitness obsession and often talks about the need to be physically fit and is known to work out everyday at his State House gym. He has also on many occasions publicly featured on the pitch playing soccer.

Seven candidates turn up for presidency

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