Museveni Fears a Rival Unlike Any Other He Has Faced in Uganda

Museveni Fears a Rival Unlike Any Other He Has Faced in Uganda
Ugandan pop star Robert Kyagulanyi, better known as Bobi Wine, center, wearing a beret, is hugged by a supporter as he gets into an ambulance after leaving a courthouse in Gulu, Uganda, Aug. 27, 2018 (AP photo).

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni knows how to take down a rival. The wreckage of various careers are scattered across his 33-year rule—politicians and military officers, unwilling to bend to his will or accept his largesse, who were derailed by well-timed scandals, arrests or worse. But with the detention and apparent torture this month of 36-year-old pop star-turned-politician Robert Kyagulanyi, better known to Ugandans as Bobi Wine, has Museveni finally overreached?

Over more than three decades, Museveni has faced only one legitimate political challenger. Kizza Besigye was part of Museveni’s National Resistance Movement, or NRM, during the Bush War that brought him to power in 1986 and served in the early days of the subsequent administration. Accusing Museveni of slipping into dictatorship, Besigye challenged him for the presidency in 2001 and in every election since. He lost each time, often under the shadow of questionable vote-counting.

When not manipulating elections, Museveni’s regime has turned to violence and intimidation to control Besigye and limit his activities. Security forces have beaten him and shot him with rubber bullets. He has been arrested countless times and is under constant surveillance. And while the treatment has sparked outrage and international censure, it has essentially worked for Museveni by helping prevent Besigye from galvanizing a movement that could upend his regime.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.

More World Politics Review