Elections in Uganda are coming up in February and March. I joined the US State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and have received several election-related security messages for US citizens. The safari doesn’t reach Uganda until March, so we’ll miss most of the election hubbub.
General and Local Elections
Uganda general elections are held on February 18 with local elections between February 24 and March 10. During Uganda’s general electoral period from February through March, the US State Department is urging US citizens to exercise “caution”. They always recommend avoiding polling centers and crowded gatherings, especially political rallies and demonstrations.
“In 2006, the Supreme Court upheld Museveni’s re-election, despite electoral irregularities including bribery, threats, violence, and preventing citizens from voting.”
Uganda Presidential Candidates
Nine candidates are running for president, but there are three main contenders:
- Dr. Kizza Besigye
- John Patrick Amama Mbabazi
- Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni
Dr. Kizza Besigye
For the last 15 years Dr. Kizza Besigye has challenged Uganda’s incumbent president. This year the physician and retired colonel is running on the ticket of the largest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).
Besigye was arrested, jailed, and charged with criminal offenses supposedly committed during previous presidential campaigns. In 2006, he rejected the outcome of Uganda’s presidential election. The Supreme Court upheld Museveni’s re-election, despite electoral irregularities including bribery, threats, violence, and preventing citizens from voting. Besigye has been prevented from addressing political rallies in the run-up to the February 2016 election.
John Patrick Amama Mbabazi
Former Ugandan Prime Minister John Patrick Amama Mbabazi is another political rival of President Museveni. Mbabazi calls his movement for the presidency “Go Forward,” and he asks the Ugandan people “Do you want a change, or do you want more of the same?” A familiar political tactic….
After announcing he would run against President Museveni, Mbabazi was fired from his position as Prime Minister. Like Besigye, he’s not allowed to speak at public rallies and was arrested at least once in the run-up to the election polls.
“If Museveni wins the 2016 election, it will be his fifth term in a row, giving him over 30 years as Uganda’s president.”
“Electoral change is Amama Mbabazi’s campaign message, attracting local and international interest. Mbabazi was at the heart of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) that has ruled Uganda since 1986. He has served in Uganda government for more than 20 years and was prime minister between 2011 and 2014. In 2015, Mbabazi made a dramatic break with President Museveni, when he announced his intention to run against him in the February 2016 election.”
Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni
During the last two months, Museveni has spent $7 million on his campaign for re-election. President since 1986, if Museveni wins the 2016 election, it will be his fifth term in a row, giving him over 30 years as Uganda’s president. Museveni is no stranger to political turmoil. He was involved in rebellions that toppled former Ugandan presidents Milton Obote and Idi Amin – aka the “butcher of Uganda”.
Six key, non-surprising issues identified for Uganda’s next government include:
- Job Creation
- Improved Services
- Debt Reduction
- Trust Building
- Disbanding Militias
- Managing Federalist Demands