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Uganda's NRM says Museveni ‘like Messi’ – the best player for 2021 elections

Museveni lifts the FIFA World Cup trophy at State House, Entebbe on 15 November 2009.
Museveni lifts the FIFA World Cup trophy at State House, Entebbe on 15 November 2009. Photo: Peter Busomoke/AFP

Top officials from Uganda’s ruling National Resistance Movement party have picked incumbent President Yoweri Museveni as candidate for the 2021 elections. Museveni has ruled Uganda since 1986 and his candidacy, which is subject to further confirmation, would see him seeking a sixth term in office.

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“I have seen Barcelona have Messi on the team day in, day out. One [might] ask the manager of the club, ‘why don’t you give a chance to the other players,’” Rogers Mulindwa, NRM spokesperson, told RFI, referring to star footballer Lionel Messi.

“When you have a good team captain, if you have a good player, there is no danger in fielding that player as many times as possible so long as the player is not injured and is not contradicting any playing rules,” said Mulindwa, who previously worked for Uganda’s football association.

No other candidate emerged during the meeting of the ruling party’s Central Executive Committee, according to Mulindwa. Museveni’s candidacy would need to be further confirmed by the party’s district conferences, national executive council and national delegate’s conference, he said.

His candidature can potentially be rejected or amended, or accepted “wholesomely”, the NRM spokesperson said in a telephone interview.

Q&A: Rogers Mulindwa

The last election in 2016 saw a breakaway candidate from the NRM in former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who ran as an independent challenger after failing to secure the ruling party’s nomination.

The NRM cannot block others from doing the same again in 2021, according to Mulindwa. However, Mbabazi “has come to realise that the only way to go is to believe in the majority position”.

Uganda’s constitutional court last year ruled in favour of removing an age limit of 75 for the country’s presidency, paving the way for Museveni to stand again in 2021.

The age limit amendments led to protests and criticism that the 74-year-old leader was attempting to stay in office for life. The protest movement was led by singer-turned-lawmaker Bobi Wine who has said he is considering a presidential run in 2021.

Mulindwa said Bobi Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, does not represent a real threat to Museveni, because “he doesn’t own the young people”.

He added that another term in office for Museveni does not mean he is a president for life.

Museveni respects the rule of law and “subjects himself to an election every five years”, he is not someone who “imposes himself on people”, according to Mulindwa.

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