Over the last two decades the rivalry for the presidency of Uganda has never been as pronounced as it is today, with the competing interests of President Yoweri Museveni and his challenger Dr Warren Kizza Besigye Kifefe taking centre-stage.
To those who follow politics Mr Museveni and Dr Besigye need no introduction; both emerged as national leaders following the capture of state power by the National Resistance Movement/Army in 1986 after engaging in a grueling five-year bush war against the Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) government of Milton Obote and the six-month military junta government of General Tito Okello Lutwa.
At the time to date, 30 years to be precise, Mr. Museveni has maintained the leadership of the political-military outfit that swept the two men to the national leadership scene, while his nemesis has spent most of that time in political limbo after their intra-party fall out.
As a result, in between scouring Mr. Museveni’s and Dr. Besigye’s divergent opinions Ugandans have come to draw comparisons between the two bush war comrades who, through their actions over the last 20 years, have at different times, polarized the country.
Since they fell out and started challenging each other politically both Museveni and Dr. Besigye have enjoyed top news coverage, local and international. Similarly, in more recent times both men, ordinarily resident in Wakiso on the outskirts of Kampala capital city, have been guarded heavily by the army and police. Museveni is guarded by Special Forces Command (SFC), a specialized unit of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) whereas, Dr. Besigye is guarded by ‘police’ that oversee his movements and home.
Pundits also say that Museveni and Dr. Besigye, both university graduates men are from Uganda’s ‘political west’, are resolute in their individual political convictions and actions, who have been linked to fiery lady politician Winnie Byanyima.
According to observers, Mr. Museveni is a calm and suave political actor who however, reacts to challenging circumstances in a manner that leaves many guessing his next move. However, Dr. Besigye is openly aggressive, making him admired and loathed in equal measure by different Ugandans.
A political Scientist, Mr. Museveni, alumni of Dar es Salaam University in Tanzania and Dr. Besigye, alumni of Makerere University in Uganda, studied medicine.
And most recently, Mr. Museveni was sworn in as President of Uganda on May 12, while his challenger in the February 18 elections, Dr. Besigye, who is also dubbed by his supporters as the ‘Peoples President’ declared himself president after ‘swearing in’ on Wednesday, May 11.
In the ensuing brouhaha Dr. Besigye was flown by a police helicopter to internal exile in Moroto where he was arraigned before a magistrate, who later ordered that Dr. Besigye be transferred to Luzira prison for remand.