Uganda’s 76-year-old president Yoweri Museveni was sworn in for a sixth term Wednesday.
The move follows his being declared the winner of elections held on Jan. 14 this year after receiving 58% of the vote while his closest rival, Bobi Wine, garnered 35%.
Museveni’s swearing-in ceremony was attended by 4,000 invited guests, including 11 heads of state, diplomats, local politicians and other dignitaries. All of those who attended wore masks and observed social distancing due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The heads of state included those of Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Namibia, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Guinea, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia. Those which sent vice presidents, prime ministers and ministers included Gabon, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Saharawi, Algeria, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda, China, Egypt, Zambia, Sri Lanka and Malawi.
He was sworn in at 11.36 a.m. by Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo.
“I, Tibuhaburwa Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, swear in the name of Almighty God that I will preserve and defend the constitution of the republic of Uganda. So help me God,” he said.
He was then presented with instruments of power including the Constitution, national flag, coat of arms, presidential standard flag and public seal.
Immediately after, he was honored with a 21-gun salute as the national anthem was played. Then followed a guard of honor.
‘’A new term has been ushered in,” said Minister for the Presidency Esther Mbayo, who was the master of ceremonies. An air force maneuver followed before prayers for the ‘new’ president took place.
In his maiden speech, Museveni said that due to COVID-19, only local leaders had been invited and all of them had been tested for the virus. He introduced the 11 heads of state present and thanked them for attending.
He said Africans have been oversleeping and not doing enough to develop, yet they have fertile land and a lot of water. He said his party has woken up a section of Ugandans and now Uganda produces food crops, sugar, tea, coffee, cement and other items than it can consume, hence the need of markets from neighboring countries.
He emphasized Pan Africanism in order to get big markets.
“The integration of Africa will lead to economic success. Now Uganda produces surplus sugar, maize, tea, cement, coffee and other products. Kenya, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo have accepted to buy our sugar because we produce more than what we consume. The unity of African states will lead to big markets.”
He criticized some western countries that interfere in Africa’s issues, which at times lead to destruction, like what happened in Libya. He said if Africa had worked together, Libya would not have landed in problems.
’’We can defend Africa if we act together. There is a need to build a united state of Africa. The mighty USA is great due to the unity of many states.”
There had been tight security since two days ago with the arrest of more than 70 people suspected of planning to sabotage the function around Kampala and over 100 in other parts of the country.
Police spokesman Fred Enanga said they were arrested because they wanted to disrupt the swearing-in ceremony.
None of the 11 candidates who stood with Museveni turned up for the function. The leading opposition party, the National Unity Platform (NUP) led by Bobi Wine, declared today as a day of prayer and fasting.
“We’ll beseech God to heal Uganda. As Mr. Museveni swears himself in after a rigged election, killing, incarcerating and maiming people, NUP leaders are at NUP offices praying,” said NUP party spokesperson Joel Ssenyonyi.
He said if the NUP attended the ceremony, it would be validating a stolen victory. He criticized the government for the heavy security deployment at Bobi Wine’s home, saying it was meant to demoralize him. He refuted allegations made by police that Bobi Wine had plans to swear himself in as the legitimately elected president, adding: “We are not in for such childish drama.”
Nyombi Tembo , a political analyst, said: “Bad losers are everywhere in the world, and they do not attend swearing-in ceremonies. It has happened in Kenya, Ghana, and what of [Donald] Trump in the US? So it is not surprising that it is taking place in Uganda.”
Earlier, police spokesperson Fred Enanga said security operatives were monitoring some of the disgruntled supporters who allegedly continued with “their rhetoric of threats to violence” ahead of the inauguration ceremony.
“Joint Operation Command Centers across the country are at full alert. We have secured all our border areas and crossing points. We are more than prepared to do anything within our means to maintain law and order,” Enanga said.
Museveni was first sworn in as president of Uganda in 1986 after overthrowing the government led by Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa.