#UgandaDecides: Know Uganda’s presidential aspirants

Eight candidates are in the running for Uganda’s presidency in Thursday’s general elections, with the major aspirants having close histories together.

The country’s long serving leader Yoweri Museveni will be up against his former personal doctor now turned critic Kizza Besigye, as well as former personal advisor Amama Mbabazi.

Of the eight eyeing Uganda’s top seat, these three are seen as the main candidates in the upcoming polls.

Here’s what you need to know about them;


Yoweri Museveni


The incumbent President has been in power since 1986, and is determined to stay for five more years, maybe even longer.

Just this week, the long-serving leader said he’ll only step down when the entire region is united, that he has duty to protect black people.

Museveni is 72 this year, 20 years younger than his counterpart in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe.

Like Mugabe, Museveni has found a way to connect with many young voters.

Critics of the Ugandan president have questioned his rule, and raised questions about the suppression of human rights and dissent in the country.

That’s done little to dent Museveni’s support at home though. In the last elections held five years ago, he garnered an impressive 68% of the votes cast.


Kizza Besigye


Among the losers in the last elections, and twice before then, was Kizza Besigye.

The 59-year-old is not a man to give up easily. Besigye was a former colonel, and Museveni’s doctor. Thw two are said to have been very close.

Their fall-out has been spectacular to say but the least.

Besigye organised protests in 2011, and still suffers the after-effects. He has only recently been released from house arrest.

Besigye is convinced his Forum for Democratic Change Party has significant support,

maybe enough to win Thursday’s poll.

He has however frequently warned about voter intimidation and bribery in the East African nation.


Amama Mbabazi


Amama Mbabazi has similar worries as fellow opposition candidate Kizza Besigye.

For thirty years, Mbabazi was one of Yoweri Museveni’s closest advisers.

Mbabazi held the office of prime minister until late 2014 when his presidential aspirations cost him his job.

Mbabazi is running under the Go Forward banner.

He wants the Ugandan electorate to look backward, recently suggesting a museum be built to honour Idi Amin.

How much support the 67-year-old enjoys is not clear.

Analysts say he may end up actually helping his former friend stay in power by splitting the opposition vote.


Other contestants

The other candidates who will be battling it out with the three above are Abed Bwanika who is running for the third time, representing the People’s Development Party, retired Major General Benon Biraaro, running under the Uganda Farmers Party, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, a former Vice Chancellor at Makerere University who’s vying independently just like Joseph Mabirizi,  and finally Faith Maureen Kyalya Walube, Museveni’s former presidential advisor on poverty alleviation in the Busoga sub-region, the only female candidate in next year’s presidential race.