Museveni, Yoweri Kaguta

Museveni, Yoweri Kaguta
▪ 1998

      Political developments in 1997 helped focus attention once again on Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, touted by many observers as a new kind of African leader. The Ugandan president could boast of a revitalized country that was enjoying political stability, a growing economy, and improving infrastructure. Uganda also was said to be the only African nation having success in battling AIDS. The president, whom some called an African Bismarck, had achieved success with a mixture of one-party rule and private enterprise, coupled with a willingness to interfere in the conflicts of neighbouring countries, especially when doing so improved Uganda's security and furthered his goal of regional integration.

      Museveni was born to cattle farmers in 1944 in the Mbarara district of southern Uganda. He attended missionary schools and graduated from the Ntara School in 1966. He then studied political science and economics at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanz. (B.A., 1970), where he was chairman of a leftist student group allied with African liberation movements. When Idi Amin came to power in Uganda in 1971, Museveni returned to Tanzania, this time in exile. There he founded the Front for National Salvation, which in 1979 helped topple Amin. Museveni held posts in transitional governments and ran for president of Uganda in 1980. When the elections, widely believed to have been rigged, were won by Milton Obote, Museveni formed the National Resistance Movement. The resistance eventually prevailed, and on Jan. 26, 1986, Museveni became president of Uganda. He won election to the post on May 9, 1996, and in legislative elections a month later, backers won control of the National Assembly.

      Although as a young man he had espoused Marxism, Museveni came to believe that free enterprise was necessary for economic development. On the other hand, he rejected multiparty democracy, arguing that such an arrangement in a poor African country degenerated into tribal politics. At the same time, he allowed a free press, even though it was frequently critical of his policies. Museveni also advocated that Africans look to themselves, not to the West, for solutions to their problems, arguing that their principal conflict was no longer with colonists but rather with corrupt rulers. Perhaps his most controversial policy was to support rebels in other African countries, including Laurent Kabila (Kabila, Laurent Desire ) (q.v.), who deposed Mobutu Sese Seko (see BITUARIES (Mobutu Sese Seko Koko Ngbendu wa za Banga )) in neighbouring Zaire in 1997. Museveni also supported Tutsi exiles fighting against the government of Rwanda and a Sudanese group, headed by a former schoolmate, fighting the Islamic fundamentalist rulers of that country. Museveni's goal, he proclaimed, was to achieve regional integration in both politics and economics, and he justified his support for opponents of corrupt regimes as necessary to bring about such a union.

ROBERT RAUCH

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▪ president of Uganda
born 1944, Mbarra district, Uganda
 
 politician who became president of Uganda in 1986.

      Museveni was born to cattle farmers and attended missionary schools. While studying political science and economics at the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (B.A., 1970), he became chairman of a leftist student group allied with African liberation movements. When Idi Amin (Amin, Idi) came to power in Uganda in 1971, Museveni returned to Tanzania in exile. There he founded the Front for National Salvation, which helped overthrow Amin in 1979. Museveni held posts in transitional governments and in 1980 ran for president of Uganda. When the elections, widely believed to have been rigged, were won by Milton Obote (Obote, Milton), Museveni formed the National Resistance Movement. The resistance eventually prevailed, and on January 26, 1986, Museveni declared himself president of Uganda. He was elected to the post on May 9, 1996, and his backers won control of the National Assembly in legislative elections held the following month. Museveni was reelected in 2001 and again in 2006 after a constitutional amendment passed the previous year had eliminated established term limits for the presidency.

      As president, Museveni helped revitalize the country, providing political stability, a growing economy, and an improved infrastructure. He instituted a number of capitalist reforms and supported a free press. Although Museveni initially rejected multiparty democracy, arguing that it would degenerate into tribal politics in a poor African country, he accepted the results of a 2005 referendum that overwhelmingly supported a return to multiparty politics; the next year, the country held its first multiparty elections since 1980. Museveni also implemented measures to combat AIDS. Uganda, in fact, is one of the few African countries to have had success battling the illness.

      In his foreign policy, Museveni often generated controversy by supporting rebels in other African countries. He backed Laurent Kabila, who deposed Mobutu Sese Seko in neighbouring Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in 1997, the Tutsi exiles who were fighting against the government of Rwanda, and a group, headed by one of his former schoolmates, battling the Islamic fundamentalist rulers of The Sudan. Museveni justified his support of rebels by stating that his goal was to achieve regional integration in both politics and economics and that the downfall of corrupt regimes was necessary to bring about such a union.

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Universalium. 2010.

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