Yoweri Kaguta Museveni became President of the Republic of Uganda on January 29, 1986 after leading a successful five-year liberation struggle. He went to the bush with 26 other young men and organized the National Resistance Movement and National Resistance Army (NRM/NRA) to oppose the tyranny that previous regimes had unleashed upon the population.
After victory, he formed a broad-based government that helped to unite the country’s political groups. Previous to the struggle of 1981-1986, Museveni had been one of the leaders in the anti-Amin resistance of 1971-1979 that had led to the fall of that monstrous regime
Museveni, who has been politically active since his student days at Ntare School, Mbarara, in south west Uganda, studied political science at the University of Dar es Salaam, graduating in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Political Science.
After Idi Amin’s coup in 1971, Museveni was instrumental in forming Fronasa (the Front for National Salvation). Fronasa made up the core of one of the Ugandan fighting groups which, together with the Tanzanian People’s Defence Forces, ousted Amin’s regime in April 1979.
After the National Resistance Movement successfully seized power in 1986, Museveni instituted reforms that arguably made him the most popular African head of state among Western powers. He embraced the IMF’s structural adjustment policies, restored stability to most of the country, and led one of the most successful national responses to HIV/AIDS. The local government structures Museveni put in place gave Ugandans a tangible experience with democracy after decades of authoritarianism
He has typically taken a very independent political stand and says: "We take from every system what is best for us and we reject what is bad for us. We do not judge the economic programmes of other nations because we believe that each nation knows best how to address the needs of its people. The NRM is neither pro-West nor pro-East – it is pro-Uganda".
In July 1990, President Museveni was elected the Chairman of the Organisation of African Unity for the year 1990/91. As he said in his acceptance speech, this was a vote of confidence in the efforts of the National Resistance Movement to build a just society with a democratic and economically viable future for the nation. The general consensus both at home and abroad, however, was that his election was a vote of confidence in the man himself. It showed that after only four-and-a-half years in office, he was already an international statesman of considerable standing
In the last five years, Museveni has initiated dramatic programmes that are destined to transform the lives of Ugandans forever. Grassroots-based programmes in health, safe water provision and mass education have replaced the shallow elite programmes of the past that did not address the needs of the majority of the people. At the same time, Museveni has maintained hard-nosed macro-economic stabilisation policies that have controlled inflation below 10 per cent for the last nine years. Consequently, the GDP of Uganda has doubled over the 15 years that the Movement Government has been in power. Absolute poverty has reduced from 56 per cent to 44 per cent. School enrolment in primary schools has jumped from 2.5 million to 6.8 million children; and universities have grown from one in 1986 to 13 by 2001.