President Yoweri Museveni is the longest-serving leader in the history of Uganda since independence on October 9th, 1962 from the British colony.
KAMPALA, Uganda – President Yoweri Museveni hinted at postponing 2021 general elections if the coronavirus pandemic persists but it seems he is fearing the battle between the opposition.
Museveni has said it would be wrong to hold a presidential election due early next year if the coronavirus persists, signaling for the first time a possible postponement.
“To have elections when the virus is still there… It will be madness,” the 75-year-old Museveni said in an interview with the local NBS Television.
But Jotham Taremwa, the spokesperson for the Electoral Commission, admitted that the pandemic may affect the electoral process but said it is early to make any decision at this stage.
“For now, its life let’s first rally behind the president and government in fighting the spread of COVID-19. At an appropriate time, the commission will inform the country of the electoral programme,” he said.
In the NBS interview, President Museveni also lashed at his political opponents who accuse him of trying to make political capital out of coronavirus pandemic.
Bobi Wine, a pop star who became an opposition leader in Uganda released a new music video, warning his compatriots of the coronavirus.
“Who could wish for this so that I speak and become popular?” he wondered…. “rubbish, idiots,” the head of state said.
Bobi said on July 15, 2019, he will challenge longtime President Museveni in a 2021 election “on behalf of the people.” Bobi Wine was concerned about his safety after what he believed was an attempt on his life last in August 2019 when his driver was shot dead in his car after protesters threw stones at the president’s motorcade.
Wine’s arrest at the time sparked protests in Uganda’s capital, Kampala. The 37-year-old said he is fearful of harm from running for president because “there has never been a threat to this regime like the threat we pose to it today as a generation.”
The pop star was placed under “preventive arrest” as the fiery government critic warned his opposition movement would not be cowed into silence but the US embassy in Kampala rebuked the government for resorting to heavy-handed tactics.
“Strong leaders and states do not stifle speech — they allow their citizens to participate fully and without fear in a vibrant multi-party democracy,” the statement said.
Though no date had been fixed for the 2021 election, it is typically held in February.
Uganda has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power since the East African country gained independence from Britain in 1962.
“Power has been taken away from the people by those that wield guns, and that’s what we want to put an end to through the vote,” he said.
Wine first came to national prominence in 2017 when, as an independent candidate, he won election as a lawmaker representing a constituency near Kampala. He has since successfully campaigned for other opposition candidates, raising his profile as a leader and attracting encouragement to run for president.
Mwambutsya Ndebesa, the lecturer at Uganda’s Makerere University told African Stand that Bobi Wine is “a symbol,” a potential catalyst for change in a country where many young people are jobless and angry over official corruption.
His candidacy comes with multiple challenges, including limited opportunities to hold rallies or stage concerts with the police violently foiling his recent attempts to hold public events, firing bullets and tear gas. Authorities insisted that such action is necessary in order to protect public order.
President Museveni accusing Wine and other opposition figures of trying to lure young people into deadly rioting, Although Wine’s rise as a possible presidential contender has energized the opposition, it also has exposed rifts among the opposition figures who hope to take power after Museveni.
But Museveni still remains popular among some Ugandans and is expected to run again after parliament passed legislation removing a clause in the constitution that prevented anyone over 75 from holding the presidency.
In power since 1986, former rebel fighters Museveni has not confirmed whether he would run again, though the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party has already asked him to be their flagbearer and voters expect him to stand.
The strongest opposition aspirant is a pop star and lawmaker Bobi Wine whose music endears him to the young.
Opposition leaders and rights groups accuse Museveni of cracking down on critics with intimidation, detentions, torture, and tear-gassing of opposition rallies. The government denies that, saying arrests are to preserve the law.
DR. Kizza Besigye, a four-time presidential candidate who has been Museveni’s most serious opponent was criticized by Wine’s supporters after he suggested that the singer was not yet ready to become president, underscoring how difficult it will be for the opposition to unite against Museveni.