Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is a representative of history, am the future, Bobi Wine

Uganda’s main opposition candidate in next week’s presidential election has swapped his trademark red beret for a helmet and starts each day with shadow-boxing and a prayer to survive a campaign trail he describes as a war zone.

Popstar-turned-lawmaker Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, who goes by the name Bobi Wine, is the frontrunner among 10 candidates challenging Yoweri Museveni, who is seeking to extend his 34-year rule in the East African nation at the Jan. 14 vote.

While former guerrilla fighter Museveni, 76, has long been seen as a stabilising force in Uganda after the brutal reigns of Milton Obote and Idi Amin, opponents say his administration has become riddled with corruption and nepotism.

“Museveni is a different generation. He is a representative of history. I am a representative of the future,” Wine, 38, told Reuters at his home, a sprawling compound in Magere, a suburb on the northern outskirts of the capital Kampala.

Previous presidential election campaigns have been marked by the intimidation of opposition candidates though analysts say crackdowns by the security forces have been more brutal and widespread this time around.

Wine’s energy, music and humble origins have struck a chord with Uganda’s many young people, unnerving the ruling party and leading to repeated arrests of Wine and his loyalists for allegedly threatening public order.


“I am in this struggle to liberate Uganda,” he told Reuters. “Before that is accomplished I don’t care how many times I am arrested, harassed, beaten, tear gassed or pepper sprayed.”

If elected, Wine said he would create jobs for the youth and crack down on corruption that he says has left schools and hospitals crumbling in the country of 46 million people.

Uganda has one of Africa’s youngest populations with nearly 80% under 30 years old, government data shows. The government estimates four out of six young Ugandans are unemployed and 80% of those working are in informal jobs with low pay.

Read also : Yoweri Kaguta Museveni Future if Bobi Wine win Uganda Elections

Museveni’s office did not respond to a Reuters request for an interview. His spokesman referred requests for comment on allegations of corruption and nepotism to the ruling National Resistance Movement party, which did not respond.

Museveni has previously said there was a corruption problem but he was fighting it. He has denied accusations of nepotism.

Read also : Bebe Cool busted by Uganda Net Citizens on Bobi Wine family


Frank Fremer is a seasoned journalist, blogger and political analyst for over a decade in Uganda

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