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Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

(b. 1944) Ugandan statesman, President since 1986


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(b. Ntungamo, Uganda, 1944)

Ugandan; President 1986– A Nyankole from south-west Uganda, Museveni was educated at the University of Dar-es-Salaam, then a leading centre of radical student activity in East Africa, and briefly joined the Ugandan civil service before going into exile after the Amin coup of 1971. He organized the exiled opposition to Amin from Tanzania, and participated in the invasion that brought about Amin's overthrow, becoming briefly Minister of Defence in the subsequent interim government. He formed a party, the UPM, which contested the 1980 elections but won only one seat. Claiming (with some justice) that the elections had been rigged, Museveni organized a rural guerrilla movement, the National Resistance Army (NRA) which in January 1986 overthrew the incumbent government.

As President, Museveni sought to rescue Uganda from the shambles which had been bequeathed by Amin and exacerbated by a succession of weak regimes. His NRA was disciplined and efficient, and was widely welcomed as the best prospect for peace, though it faced opposition especially in northern Uganda. A broadly based government was formed, but Museveni remained hostile to multi-party elections, which he associated with ethnic competition and violence. Museveni won Uganda's first direct presidential elections, held in 1996, and he was re-elected in 2001. While a poll held in 2000 had supported Museveni's ‘no party’ system, he subsequently declared that earlier ethnic problems with the system had been overcome, and in 2005 Ugandans voted to restore multi-party politics. Following the overturning of a constitutional limit to presidential terms, Museveni won a third term as President at multi-party elections in 2006.

He established good relations with Western states, but was on poor terms with most of his neighbours, who saw his reform programme as a threat to their own regimes. Museveni is suspected of having sanctioned the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) invasion of neighbouring Rwanda in 1990 and the International Court has ruled that Uganda must compensate the Democratic Republic of Congo for its actions in that country between 1999 and 2003. Museveni has had to deal with years of internal rebellion in the north of Uganda from the brutal Lord's Resistance Army, which seeks to establish a theocratic state. A peace deal was agreed in February 2008 although the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, did not come out of hiding to sign it. In December 2008 a major offensive was launched against LRA bases in the Congo, but Museveni's wish to capture Kony was thwarted and LRA attacks continued in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Sudan.

Subjects: African Studies.


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