Musician wants to rock Ugandan leader’s boat
A TOP Ugandan musician-turned-legislator says he wants to use his star power to spark “political change” in a country where President Yoweri Museveni has ruled for 31 years and parliament plans to introduce a bill to allow him to run again.
Most popular musicians in the prospective oil producer have either steered clear of politics or openly lent their support to the ruling party, which pays them to sing pro-Museveni ballads or perform at rallies.
That often irritates Uganda’s opposition, which has long accused them of being silent about government corruption and crackdowns on critics. But now that’s changing.
Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, 35, who goes by the stage name of Bobi Wine, has become a magnetic presence on Uganda’s political scene after a surprise entry into politics with a landslide win as an independent candidate in a parliamentary by-election at the end of June.
His anti-government stance, peppered in his lyrics, combined with an electric connection with the youth, could be a serious threat to Museveni’s grip on power.
“We want to cause political change,” Ssentamu said. “It’s long overdue.”
In a show of irritation with the singer’s support, Museveni complained to media that he had been heckled while campaigning for the ruling party candidate in the by-election and that this was unacceptable.
Museveni, 72, is currently ineligible to seek another term because Uganda’s constitution bars anyone above 75 years old from being a presidential candidate. But there are plans under way to change the constitution so he can stand again in 2021.
There has been growing public opposition since senior officials announced plans to introduce a bill in parliament seeking to remove the age cap from the constitution.
In 2005, another constitutional hurdle limiting a Ugandan president to two five-year terms was removed, allowing Museveni to extend his rule. – Reuters