JOHANNESBURG — African leaders joined thousands of Ugandans on Tuesday on an airstrip in the capital of Kampala, where 50 years ago Uganda announced its independence from British rule.
The East African country has come a long way from the days when brutal dictators were in charge. But it has not had a single peaceful transfer of power since 1962, and the potential for instability remains as opposition activists intensify their campaigns and authorities clamp down.
President Yoweri Museveni took power by force in 1986 and has ruled since. He has not said whether he intends to run in the 2016 election, but some in the ruling party are starting to demand his retirement, saying his long stay in power hurts the party’s popularity.
Tuesday’s national celebrations were attended by at least 15 heads of state, including two of the longest-serving leaders in Africa: Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and Yahya Jammeh of Gambia.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II was represented by Prince Edward, the Duke of Kent, who in 1962 handed over the symbolic instruments of power to a young Ugandan politician who would be overthrown eight years later by the army chief, Idi Amin.
Uganda’s population has since grown from 7 million to 34 million. The World Bank says Uganda has sustained a record of “prudent macroeconomic management and structural reform.”
In 1996, at least 44 percent of Uganda’s population lived below the poverty line. By 2009, according to the World Bank, the figure had fallen to 24.5 percent.
President vetoes bonuses for parliament
NAIROBI — Kenya’s president vetoed a move by the country’s parliament to award legislators bonuses of up to $110,000 at the end of their term next year.
The move is unconstitutional and untenable in the country’s prevailing economic circumstances, President Mwai Kibaki said late Tuesday.
Mr. Kibaki noted recent increases of salaries for teachers and doctors, and said Kenya requires massive resources to implement a new constitution and meet other competing demands in the economy.
The lawmakers last week quietly awarded themselves the bonuses, sparking public outrage.
On Tuesday, at least 100 people, including a popular Kenyan musician, protested outside parliament shouting “thieves” and urging the president not to approve the pay bill.