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FLASHBACK: Kizza Besigye at 60

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Leading Ugandan opposition figure Dr Kizza Besigye, a four-time presidential candidate today turns 60.

The charismatic Mr Besigye, is married to Oxfam International ED Winnie Byanyima, a former MP who is seen as intelligent and ambitious and who was once a close personal friend of President Yoweri Museveni. Mr Besigye and his wife have one son.

Besigye BD

The Forum for Democratic Change top gun was born on 22 April 1956in the Rukungiri District, the second child in a family of six and the son of a policeman.

Both his parents died while he was at secondary school.

Besigye’s dates with history:

  • 1956: Born
  • 1975: Went to Kampala
  • 1979: Uganda Patriotic Movement
  • 1981: Imprisoned
  • 1982: Becomes Museveni’s doctor
  • 1986: Named minister
  • 2001: Challenges Museveni in elections. Flees Uganda after losing
  • 2005: Returns to Uganda from South Africa
  • 2006: Charged with treason and rape before election – later acquitted on both counts
  • Feb 2011: Loses election
  • April 2011: Injured during one of four arrests during “walk-to-work” protests
  • February 2016: runs for president for a fourth time and loses
  • April 2016: Clocks 60 years

In 1975, he headed to Kampala and to medical school at what was then the region’s most prestigious university, Makerere.

Aged 18, he was in a Kampala hotel about to have dinner. Walking to the toilets, he stopped to talk to a former classmate.

A huge man lifted him up by the collar, slapped him hard across the face and sent him sprawling to the floor.

He said he never made it to the toilets, and never ate his dinner. He picked himself up and ran for his life.



Following Amin’s overthrow, the qualified doctor became a member of the Uganda People’s Movement of Yoweri Museveni.

The movement had little success in the 1980 election which saw the return of Milton Obote to power, and which is widely considered to have been rigged.

Mr Besigye once said that he did not immediately join Mr Museveni in the bush war.

But he was imprisoned for two months in the Nile Hotel in 1981, accused of working with the rebels, and tortured.

Mr Besigye fled to Nairobi and in 1982 joined Mr Museveni in the bush, where he became his personal doctor.

Although rarely at the battle front, Mr Besigye was deployed in divisions which were sent into battle where he treated the casualties.

When the National Resistance Army came to power, Mr Besigye, aged just 29, was appointed state minister of internal affairs and national political commissar.

These appointments shocked some who had been in the bush with Mr Besigye, as he had not been heavily involved in the political side of the bush war.

Mr Besigye rose to the rank of colonel in the army but did not retire from it until shortly before the 2001 elections – having written a document that accused the ruling National Resistance Movement of being undemocratic, dishonest and corrupt. It almost earned him a court martial.

A few months before the election, he emerged as a presidential candidate.

His critics see him as a power-hungry attention seeker. But others praise him for standing up to authority.

Mr Besigye himself says his mission is “to work with millions of other Ugandans in bringing about a stable democratic and peaceful Uganda”.

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