Mu­si­cian wants to rock Ugan­dan leader’s boat

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - WORLD - Elias Biryabarema

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


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