On February 20, 2016, it was officially announced that Yowser Museveni had won his fifth term for president of Uganda. The elections marred by questions over Museveni lying about his age to the riots that erupted during Election Day. Museveni initially brought democracy and stability to a once trouble nation, but elections showed a conflicting picture between democracy and security in Uganda.
Uganda is a key strategic partner in Africa’s Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) overseen by the African Union (AU). Uganda has helped take part in campaigns with U.S. support along with other African nations in weakening the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a northern Ugandan rebel force that targets civilians in Uganda, sex trafficking of girls, and kidnaps boys to put in their army.
Uganda has also been a vital asset in the war against al-Shabaab, and the United States has been providing military assistance to the country ever since the 2010 bombing of several sports bars in Kampala. Uganda’s efforts in fighting al-Shabaab were only re-enforced after the group assassinated Ugandan lawyer Joan Kagezi, who was scheduled to prosecute 13 al-Shabaab members for the 2010 bombings.
The United States and Uganda have diplomatic relations dating back to 1962, following Uganda’s independence from the United Kingdom. Relations were strained during the rule of Idi Amin’s reign throughout the 1970s but relations improved after his fall from power in 1979. When President Museveni came to power in 1986 it ended decades of economic strife and government instability.
The United States is also heavily financially tied to Uganda under Museveni rule as president providing democratic governance, peace & security, and local development. In the fiscal year 2011, the United States provided $600 million in assistance to Museveni to maintain the political stability and national security of Uganda. In addition, the United States has spent hundreds of millions in AIDS/HIV programs for Uganda which President Museveni has used to greatly reduce the infection rate from 29% in the 1980’s to 7% today.
Uganda also has strong ties to Israel who is a major business partner in the region with employment sectors from agriculture, information technology, construction, water management, and agriculture. Israel security firms also work with Christian nations in military defense against jihadist threats like al-Shabaab.
There has been some relation differences between the United States and Uganda, especially with Uganda’s draconian anti-gay law. The two nations still maintained relations even when the U.S. sent additional military personnel including 100 special forces advisors to track down Joseph Kony, leader of the LRA.
David Shinn, a former U.S. envoy, noted how Uganda has sent the bulk amount of troops to AMISOM to fight al-Shabaab, which is an intervention the U.S. stronger supports. Museveni also sent troops into President Salva Kiir in South Sudan to fight off rebel forces. President Kiir claimed that his former deputy Riek Machar of planning a Coup.
Museveni noted that since South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, thousands of Ugandans have done business with the South Sudanese. Ugandan People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) withdrew from South Sudan when a peace deal was brokered by African and global powers demanding Uganda withdraw.
There are opponents to Museveni including the young disenfranchised population of Uganda who feel he has served too long and has become autocratic.
Thirty years ago, Museveni wrote a book called “What’s Wrong with Africa” it detailed how leaders stay in power far beyond their means of rule. It is ironic the Museveni who campaigned against power would be corrupted by power absolutely.