Following a bloody electoral period marked my death, arrests and intimidation, renowned opposition figures and outspoken activists in Uganda remained mute as President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni took oath of office on Wednesday, extending his presidency to four decades.
Running on a contested victory he clinched after the January 14 election, the president on May 12 declared: ‘‘Elections are over! Let us get down to work, so as to chase poverty from your homes.’’
Opposition figures, including runner-up Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine snubbed the ceremony attended by Heads of State including President Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya) and Samia Suluhu (Tanzania) at Kololo, with his National Unity Platform (NUP) party members opting instead to seek spiritual intervention.
‘‘We had planned national prayers but security forces disrupted everything. Bobi Wine is okay. Mr Museveni is a coward,’’ NUP spokesperson, Mr Joel Ssenyonyi told the Daily Monitor on Wednesday morning.
On the eve of the swearing ceremony, Wine spoke of mass arrests of NUP supporters and heavy security presence at his home.
Another fierce critic and four-time presidential candidate, Dr Kizza Besigye, who is currently out of the country, recently condemned the inauguration.
Activist Dr Stella Nyanzi voiced her frustration via her social media platform.
‘‘Go ahead and shoot us dead like you have murdered myriads of poor Ugandans. Shoot us for another five years but we shall never embrace you,’’ she said.
Museveni’s inauguration, which caps an election season that claimed over 50 lives in just two days in November last year, was a high-security affair. Kampala saw escalated military surveillance and patrols by security forces.
Despite remarks from critics and political observers questioning his win after a bloody election season marred by death and arrests, the 76-year-old veteran leader appeared unbothered during his swearing in.
‘‘It is quite laughable to try to give lectures on democracy to architects of such systems. We neither need nor seek any approbation from anybody outside Uganda except our peers from the African Union (AU),’’ Mr Museveni said to a cheering crowd of over 5,000 guests, including 11 African heads of state and 33 foreign dignitaries who graced the event at Kololo grounds.
But as he embarks on the new term and makes new promises, Museveni, who has been in power for 35 years, faces several hurdles including increasing corruption, a bloated public wage bill and youth unemployment, amongst others.
Report by David Vosh Ajuna