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Uganda to Celebrate President Museveni's 24-year Rule, Says PM

Peter Clottey | Washington, DC 25 January 2010

Uganda’s Prime Minister says the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) will be celebrating President Yoweri Museveni’s 24 years in power Tuesday.

Professor Apolo Nsibambi said the government has successfully wiped out terrorism and improved the security situation since President Museveni came to power in 1986.

“(The) government has restored security, especially in the northern part of Uganda where Kony (LRA rebel leader) did a lot of havoc. Kony has been flushed out and important programs of recovery are in place&hellipwhat is more, we also re-introduced a multi-party system, and I think it is facing challenges, but we have done it in a peaceful manner,” he said.

Tuesday’s celebration is scheduled to be held in the eastern town of Mbale. Trade Minister Kahinda Otafire is quoted by the media as saying the choice of Mbale was reflective of the district’s historic contribution to the 1981-1985 bush war.

President Museveni seized power in 1986 after a five-year guerilla war against then President Milton Obote’s government following the 1980 disputed elections.

Nsibambi said Uganda has made strides despite the recent world economic downturn.

“There was hyperinflation when we took over power, but now there is reasonable economic sobriety,” Nsibambi said.

President Museveni was recently endorsed by his ruling NRM party to stand for a fourth successive constitutional term in the general election scheduled to be held in 2011.

But a leading opposition member has rejected the prime minister’s claim that Ugandans are better off now than they were when President Museveni came to power.

Sarah Eperu, a leading member of the main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) said the government has failed the ordinary Ugandan.

“Many Ugandans have declared it a day of mourning, mourning the glory that the NRM found in Uganda that has gone to the drain. There is nothing to get excited about 24 years down the road. Many things have gone extremely bad and wrong in the country and I think you should get ashamed to say people are happy of celebrating this day,” Eperu said.

Uganda’s media quoted Jaberi Bidandi Ssali, a former ally of President Museveni as saying the leader’s continued stay in office has created a lot of “bitterness” and “hatred” in the hearts and minds of Ugandans -- a charge the ruling party denies.

Eperu said the government has failed to develop Uganda’s infrastructure.

“I have not seen even one referral hospital built by the NRM government. Not even one. If you went to the education sector for example, I want the prime minister to tell you one or two schools that the NRM regime has built. Even universities, they have picked institutions that they found in place that they baptized them as universities,” Eperu said.

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