Thursday marks 31 years since Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni took power.
Museveni who is one of Africa’s longest serving leaders is the chief guest at Masindi Sports Grounds in Western Uganda, where the national event is taking place under the theme: “Uganda’s Success Story Under NRM Leadership is a shared victory.”
The celebrations are in remembrance of the five-year bush war that saw the then National Resistance Army (NRA) rebels, under the command of Mr Museveni, capture power in Kampala on January 26, 1986.
January 22, 1986, government troops in Kampala had begun to quit their posts en masse as the rebels gained ground from the south and south-west. On the 25th, the Museveni-led faction finally overran the capital.. The NRA toppled Okello’s government and declared victory the next day, January 26th.
Museveni was sworn in as president on 29 January.
“This is not a mere change of guard, it is a fundamental change,” said Museveni, after a ceremony conducted by British-born Chief Justice Peter Allen.
Speaking to crowds of thousands outside the Ugandan parliament, the new president promised a return to democracy: “The people of Africa, the people of Uganda, are entitled to a democratic government. It is not a favour from any regime. The sovereign people must be the public, not the government.”
Masindi remain significant in the history of the Luweero bush war as top rebel commanders then, who are now senior government and military officers, believe the attack on Masindi on February 20, 1984 tilted the course of the war in their favour.
Other African leaders who have been in office longer than Museveni include Obiang’ Nguema of Equatorial Guinea, Eduardo dos Santos of Angola, Paul Biya of Cameroon and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.