UGANDA‘s veteran president Yoweri Museveni 71, was sworn in for another five-year term on Thursday (May 12), extending his rule to 35 years after an election that was disputed and marred by protests against his rule by the opposition party.
The president officially won 60 percent of the votes in the February election, which the opposition said was rigged. Protests have erupted since, leading to clashes with police and dozens of arrests. Officials say the vote was free and fair.
Among the visitors, at the swearing in ceremony, was Sudan’s President Hassan Omar El Bashir. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a warrant for his arrest for crimes against humanity. In welcoming comments, Museveni said the ICC was “a bunch of useless people.”
Also in attendance were other heads of States and Governments from South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Ethiopia among others.
In the days leading up to Museveni’s swearing-in, authorities placed more security patrols on the streets of Kampala and there was a strong presence of military and police on Thursday.
The government also banned live television or radio coverage of protests in the wake of the election, which EU monitors said was held in an intimidating atmosphere. The EU also said the electoral body lacked independence and transparency.
Opposition to the president is strongest among youths in urban areas, such as Kampala, where frustration has been fuelled by unemployment, corruption and crumbling public services.
Police arrested opposition leader Kizza Besigye after a street protest on Wednesday (May 11). He has been under house arrest on and off since. Besigye, who heads the Forum for Democratic Change party, won 35 percent of the vote.
Since coming to power in 1986, Museveni is credited with restoring order after years of chaos. But experts say the growing economy has not kept up with a rising population, while critics complain about corruption and a clampdown on dissent. –Reuters