Ugandans see Amin parallels in longtime leader

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It is estimated that two-thirds of Ugandan army soldiers were killed during Amin’s first year in power, many of them from northern tribes seen to be loyal to his predecessor, Milton Obote.

Amin expelled Uganda’s South Asian community, which, along with embargoes from Western donors, plunged the country into economic collapse.

Mr. Museveni is credited with distancing Uganda from its brutal past.

He came to power promising security, and he has delivered stability, even in the north of the country, where Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army sought to impose a brutal, theocratic government.

Trade liberalization and economic growth followed, averaging about 7 percent over the past decade. However, most Ugandans have not felt the benefits.

The same ruler who once said Africa’s problem is leaders who stay too long in power has since turned into a textbook dictator, many Ugandans say.

The country’s manufacturing base is mostly dormant, and most finished products are imported.

Mr. Museveni’s party has dipped into the national treasury to fund elections. Opposition members and demonstrators complain about the militarization of police — with the government spending more than $200,000 a day to fight political protests last year, according to government records.

The media remain relatively free, although newspapers and radio stations have been shut and journalists have been harassed more frequently. More than 80 cases of mistreatment within the past year were reported by the Human Rights Network for Journalists.

Forty percent of Ugandans get by on less than $1.25 a day, according to the World Bank.

“Ugandans see contradictions to the narrative of ‘new,’ ” said Mr. Kisekka-Ntale. “There’s a sense that things are becoming not so far from what the [Museveni] regime prevailed against.”

Opposition leaders have seized on the comparison with Amin for political mileage. Main opposition leader Kizza Besigye last year said Amin was a better president than Mr. Museveni.

At 26 years in power, Mr. Museveni is the longest-serving ruler in East Africa and fourth-longest on the African continent.

At a recent retreat for the ruling National Resistance Movement, a parliamentarian called on Mr. Museveni to restore term limits, which he persuaded parliament to scrap in 2006.

He has not named a successor, although his son, Lt. Col. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, and Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, who is facing allegations of corruption tied to the oil sector, are rumored to be at the top of the list.

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