Museveni, Yoweri

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Museveni, Yoweri

Yoweri Museveni (you´ərē mōō´səvā´nē), 1944–, Ugandan political leader, president of Uganda (1986–), b. Ntungamo. He studied economics and political science at the Univ. of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania (B.A., 1970), where he headed a leftist student group. He worked briefly as an intelligence official in the government of Milton Obote. When Idi Amin took power, Museveni went into exile (1971) in Tanzania, organizing an opposition group that had a pivotal role in overthrowing (1979) Amin. Museveni lost to Obote in the 1980 presidential elections, which were widely believed to have been fixed. He then founded the National Resistance Army (NRA), which ultimately won the five-year guerrilla war; Museveni was declared president.

Pledging to restore peace and end ethnic strife, he instituted a number of reforms, e.g., the privatization of state-owned companies and promotion of a free market to help rebuild Uganda's ravaged economy, cutbacks in government spending, and an independent judiciary, and instituted an effective program to control the spread of AIDS. He also long opposed multiparty democracy, maintaining that it required a thriving economy and viable middle class. Generally considered a leading African statesman and power broker, Museveni has called for Africans to stop blaming colonialism for their problems and to attempt to operate without Western aid. However, Uganda also has intervened in the political affairs of neighboring countries, including Congo, Rwanda, and Sudan. Museveni's reputation has been tarnished by profiteering and looting by Uganda's forces in the Congo and by his increasingly autocratic rule and intolerance for political opposition.

Uganda's first direct presidential election (1996) returned Museveni to office by an overwhelming majority, but a referendum that approved (2000) continuing his so-called no-party state saw a large drop in voter turnout. He was reelected president by a large majority in 2001, but this time there were cleared indications of vote fraud, although it seemed to have inflated rather than ensured his win. A 2005 referendum, which approved returning to a multiparty system, was supported by Museveni. He was elected to a third term in 2006 after the constitution was amended (2005) to permit him to do so and won a fourth term in 2011.

See his Selected Articles on the Uganda Resistance War (1986); G. Ondoga Ori Amaza, Museveni's Long March (1998).

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