Mr Yoweri Tibuhaburwa Kaguta Museveni was on Wednesday May 12 sworn in as the new ‘brand-new’ President of the Republic of Uganda. Mr Museveni’s inauguration marked the end of the 2016-2021 political leadership of the country. It also marked the beginning of the political leadership that will run the country between 2021 and 2026.
In Kiburara, where we were watching the proceedings at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds on the telly, Mr Amama and Ms Mbabazi were the centre of attraction. Ms Mbabazi looked very chic and very princessly royal. And her husband was every inch presidential and the tout jour sagacious Mr Mbabazi. For us in Kiburara, we just shouted in unison: Vice President and Ms Mbabazi.
Now, most Ugandans, even those with a limited interest in the national politics and the management of state affairs, have heard about the rumour about Mr Mbabazi, former prime minister. The particulars of this rumour are even detailed: Mr Mbabazi would be appointed vice president. In the middle of the term of office, Mr Museveni would abdicate and leave the ‘seat’ to vice president Amama Mbabazi. Duh!
Now only a stupid person like me would put such speculative projective in print. But this is Uganda. And I am who I am. My understanding though is that after the 2017 incident in Parliament, the Constitution was amended to provide for the following: Beginning with the 2021 electoral cycle, a president can only run for two terms of office.
That means, Mr Museveni is beginning his first term of office in the new constitutional regime of two terms. In simple Lhukonzo, this means he is eligible to run for office in 2026. Dear reader, you can use that information any way you wish…
The working headline for this piece was: ‘Will this be Mr Museveni’s last term of office?’ It (headline) was made even more poignant by former prime minister Amama Mbabazi’s gracing of the swearing-in ceremony. Will Mr Museveni appoint Mr Mbabazi as vice president?
If we were graceful as to discount the speculations, the facts are clear: at the end of the term of office into which he was sworn in last Wednesday, Mr Museveni will have been President of Uganda for 40 years. Yet if someone had said he would be President for even 10 years in 1986, one would have been thought to have escaped from a mental facility.
But now, 35 years later, the more conservative position is that Mr Museveni will seek re-election in 2026 and that the speculative AMAR (Amama Mbabazi Arrangement Rumour) is not likely to happen like Kenya’s Building Bridges Initiative.
And what does this mean to Ugandans; particularly Opposition political parties? The 2021 election is likely to go down as the last election in which a presidential candidate could rally the population to challenge Mr Museveni. If Mr Museveni appears on the ballot paper in 2026, there will be no presidential candidate worth the bother to bring out the vote. That means parliamentary seats will be more competitive than they have been.
In the last elections, we learnt that the political opposition can disrupt the balance of numbers in the Parliament. So, political parties in the Opposition would be better advised to mount a serious assault on securing majority numbers in Parliament than waste time and resources on challenging Mr Museveni.
In 2026, the Opposition will have no dynamism and Ugandans will be so election weary (and wary) that Mr Museveni will project himself as the best bet. So long…!
Mr Bisiika is the executive editor of the East African Flagpost. firstname.lastname@example.org