Museveni was involved in rebellions that toppled Ugandan leaders Idi Amin (1971–79) and Milton Obote (1980–85). With the notable exception of the north, President Museveni has brought relative stability and economic growth to a country that has endured decades of rebel activity and civil war. His tenure has also witnessed one of the most effective national responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa.
In the mid to late 1990s, Museveni was fêted by the West as part of a new generation of African leaders. His presidency has been marred, however, by involvement in civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and other Great Lakes region conflicts. Rebellion in the north by the Lord’s Resistance Army had perpetuated a drastic humanitarian emergency.
Restrictions on political pluralism and a 2005 referendum and constitution change scrapping limits on presidential terms, enabling extension of his rule, have attracted recent concern from domestic commentators and the international community.
Born on 15 September 1944 in Ntungamo, Uganda Protectorate, Museveni is a member of the Banyankole ethnic group. His surname, Museveni, means “Son of a man of the Seventh”, in honour of the Seventh Battalion of the King’s African Rifles. This was the British colonial army in which many Ugandans served during World War II.
Museveni gets his middle name from his father, Amos Kaguta, a cattle herdsman. Kaguta is also the father of Museveni’s brother Caleb Akandwanaho, popularly known in Uganda as “Salim Saleh“, and sister Violet Kajubiri.
Museveni attended Kyamate Elementary School, Mbarara High School, and Ntare School. In 1967, he went to the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. There, he studied economics and political science and became a Marxist, involving himself in radical pan-Africanpolitics. While at university, he formed the University Students’ African Revolutionary Front activist group and led a student delegation toFRELIMO territory in Portuguese Mozambique, where he received guerrilla training. Studying under the leftist Walter Rodney, among others, Museveni wrote a university thesis on the applicability of Frantz Fanon‘s ideas on revolutionary violence to post-colonial Africa.
n 1970, Museveni joined the intelligence service of Ugandan President Milton Obote. When Major General Idi Amin seized power in aJanuary 1971 military coup, Museveni fled to Tanzania with other exiles, including the deposed president.
The power bases of Amin and Obote were very different, leading to a significant ethnic and regional aspect to the resulting conflict. Obote was from the Lango ethnic group of the central north, while Amin was a Kakwa from the northwestern corner of the country. The British colonial government had organized the colony’s internal politics so that the Lango and Acholi dominated the national military, while people from southern parts of the country were active in business.
This situation endured until the coup, when Amin filled the top positions of government with Kakwa and Lugbara and violently repressed the Lango and their Acholi allies