Uganda leadership power struggle looms

2012-06-20 21:17
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (AFP, File picture)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (AFP, File picture)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Kampala - The party of Uganda's long-serving ruler appears to have split up into rival factions jostling for power in anticipation of the president's possible exit, officials and analysts said on Wednesday.

They predicted an all-out power struggle that could pit the country's prime minister against its first lady.

President Yoweri Museveni called an emergency meeting of top party officials on Tuesday after his party's defeat last week in a parliamentary by-election widely seen as a test of his popularity a year after he won re-election. The loss came despite Museveni's physical presence in the contested region of western Uganda, historically his core base.

Museveni, a former bush fighter who captured power by force in 1986, has not said if he will run again when his current term expires in 2016, although some party officials believe he is considering retirement in the face of growing opposition to his rule.

Museveni, who is 68 according to his official biography, recently said he would quit power by the time he reaches his mid-70s, setting off loud speculation across Uganda about his likely successor.

There appear to be two top contenders waiting in the wings: First lady Janet Museveni, an ambitious minister believed by some to be Museveni's favored successor; and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, a seasoned politician who has made it clear he wishes to be the next president.

Parliamentarian David Bahati, the ruling party's chief whip, denied his organisation had splintered into two camps, saying they were merely going through a "critical debate" that will leave the party stronger.

Uganda's political scene is driven largely by men who dominate their organisations and who can seem more popular than their ideas. Museveni's aides have built his appeal around the notion that he saved Uganda from cruel dictators, an image that traditionally resonates in villages such as the one where his party was defeated last week.

The loss, seen by many analysts as a sign of Museveni's fading luster, appears to have opened up new fault lines delineated by ambitious politicians building their own power bases.

Retire, look after cattle

"The problem is the people who have personalised the party and want to own everything," said Okot Ogong, a party member and lawmaker with a reputation for independence, without mentioning names. "They feel that they are more important than the party."

Museveni has long been accused of practicing nepotism, having once given his brother and then his wife Cabinet positions. His son, an army colonel, heads the Ugandan military's most elite unit and is in charge of his father's security detail.

These choices suggest, according to some analysts, that Museveni may choose a close relative as his successor, a decision that would disappoint politicians who have spent years positioning themselves for the job. They include Mbabazi, the corruption-tainted prime minister once praised by Museveni, as well as Rebecca Kadaga, the popular speaker of Uganda's parliament.

Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a professor of political history at Uganda's Makerere University, said Museveni would never consider politicians such as Kadaga and Mbabazi as possible successors because they may end up being independent.

"I suspect the son," Ndebesa said, talking about Museveni's possible choice. "Not even the mother."

Barnabas Tinkasimire, a lawmaker with the ruling party who once predicted that the power struggles would "get bloody," said calls for Museveni's exit were getting bolder.

"His time is finished," Tinkasimire said. "We in the party are telling Museveni to go and retire and look after his cattle and grandchildren."

- AP

Read more on:    yoweri museveni  |  amama mbabazi  |  uganda  |  east africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24

  • Wednesday Delft - 20:37 PM
    Road name: R300 Southbound
    ROADWORKS - left lane closed at Hindle Road
  • Wednesday Sir Lowry's Pass - 17:57 PM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
More traffic reports...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now! - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Torch 9810

The BlackBerry Torch 9810 gives you the powerful combination of...

From R2820.00

I'm shopping for:


You may find yourself fascinated by something which could draw you in to obsessively exploring this subject in more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.