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President Yoweri Museveni marks 25 years in power

January 26, 2011 - UGANDA

President Yoweri Museveni has long passed two milestones: longest-serving president of Uganda and longest-serving East-African leader. His third arrives on Jan 26, when he marks 25 years in power. The date invites speculation on whether he will chance a fair contest in the 2011 election, or contrive to stay in power until a coup or death overtakes him. The anniversary also invites a look at the wins and losses for Uganda attached to his now almost unbreakable hold on power. The recent discovery of oil promises an influx of unprecedented wealth and investment for a country where more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line. He has taken small steps towards multiparty democracy, but a 2005 constitutional reform to remove term limits from the presidency suggests neither he nor his ruling party is interested in sharing power or any newfound wealth.

President Yoweri Museveni has long passed two milestones: longest-serving president of Uganda and longest-serving East-African leader. His third arrives on Jan 26, when he marks 25 years in power. The date invites speculation on whether he will chance a fair contest in the 2011 election, or contrive to stay in power until a coup or death overtakes him. The anniversary also invites a look at the wins and losses for Uganda attached to his now almost unbreakable hold on power. The recent discovery of oil promises an influx of unprecedented wealth and investment for a country where more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line. He has taken small steps towards multiparty democracy, but a 2005 constitutional reform to remove term limits from the presidency suggests neither he nor his ruling party is interested in sharing power or any newfound wealth. When Idi Amin came to power in Uganda in 1971, Museveni founded the Front for National Salvation as an exile in Tanzania. The organization helped to overthrow Amin in 1979.Museveni held posts in transitional governments and in 1980 ran for president of Uganda. Milton Obote won what was widely described as rigged elections, and Museveni formed the National Resistance Movement. The resistance eventually prevailed, and on 26 Jan 1986, Museveni declared himself president of Uganda. He was elected to the post on 9 May 1996, and his backers won control of the National Assembly in legislative elections. He was re-elected in 2001 and again in 2006 after a constitutional amendment passed the previous year had eliminated term limits for the presidency. He won kudos in the West and elsewhere for his part in overthrowing dictator Idi Amin. The website, biography.com, credits Museveni as helping to revitalize the country, providing political stability, a growing economy and an improved infrastructure. It notes that Museveni also has implemented measures to combat AIDS, and that Uganda is one of the few African countries to have had success battling the illness. One of the main controversies of his presidency is his support for rebels in other African countries. For all the supposed flaws in its democracy and questionable foreign policy, Uganda has not been disowned by the British-led Commonwealth of Nations: the former British colony hosted the leaders the Commonwealth countries, including Queen Elizabeth II, at a summit in Entebbe in 2007. (UPDATED Aug 2010)

Museveni biography (Biography.com)

Museveni in office (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Date written/update: 2011-01-26