Although the current political situation in Uganda has received scant attention from western media, observers in the country are beginning to speculate that President Yoweri Museveni’s 28 year rule is approaching its end, as he is forced to face a new type of opposition movement that unites civilian and military elements against a backdrop of factionalism within his own party.
General David Sejusa, former coordinator of Intelligence (2005-2013) and senior presidential advisor, who has been living in exile in the UK since April 2013, has openly opposed Museveni and called for his removal by any means necessary. Africa Integrity has been told by reliable sources that Sejusa loyalists in Uganda are attempting to organise a rebel insurgency. The group is said to include some disaffected soldiers from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF).
Alongside the emerging military opposition, the civilian political opposition is displaying a new-found unity and converging with armed would-be insurgents. Sources close to Sejusa suggest that he played a key role in unifying the previously fragmented political opposition, which is increasingly showing support for the removal of Museveni ‘by all means necessary’. This is demonstrated by influential opposition politicians like Colonel Kizza Besigye, the former leader of the FDC, publicly declaring that he is working closely with Sejusa to overthrow the Museveni regime before the 2016 presidential elections.
This growing opposition movement is also underpinned by factionalism within Museveni’s National Resistance Movement party (NRM). Prominent ministers including the former prime minister and secretary general of the NRM, Amama Mbabazi, and former vice president, Gilbert Bukenya, have publicly broken ranks with the president, giving rise to two opposing factions within the party – one in support of Museveni and the other in support of Mbabazi. It is highly likely that this growing split was behind Museveni’s decision to sack Mbabazi as prime minister on 19th September 2014. Furthermore, sources suggest that there is an increasing amount of collusion between senior government figures and the anti-Museveni revolt inspired by Sejusa. On 21st September 2014, Sejusa encouraged Mbabazi to join the struggle aimed at “ending the dictatorship…which we both created”.
This new revolt could potentially be the greatest threat to Museveni’s political dominance yet. An insurgency growing from within his own security structures and converging with a united civilian political opposition is a dangerous new phenomenon for Museveni to face. This delicate situation is compounded by Museveni’s growing weakness within his own party. Nevertheless, it would be premature to accept unquestioningly Sejusa’s assessment that Museveni’s rule will imminently come to an end. Museveni is not to be underestimated in his ability to hold on to power, as demonstrated over nearly three decades at the helm, and his Special Forces Command (led by his son Brigadier Muhoozi) is a powerful military body which will support him in this struggle.
As a result, it is highly likely that Uganda will experience a period of rising political instability and unrest over the coming years as the opposition put forward their challenge to Museveni and he acts to defend his position.
[This post is an abbreviated version of a longer report produced by Africa Integrity for circulation to clients. Readers who would like to receive a copy of the full report should contact us with such a request]