Uganda's ‘President for Life’ Could Face Closest Vote in Decades

(Bloomberg) -- Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni could face the closest election of his more than three-decade rule in 2021, as a firebrand pop star-turned-politician whittles down the East African strongman’s support to less than half of voters, a new poll shows.

Museveni is still the most popular candidate, with the backing of 32 percent of 2,042 Ugandans polled by Research World International last month, the local Sunday Monitor newspaper reported. But just 10 percentage points behind was Robert Kyagulanyi, an Afrobeats musician and lawmaker who goes by the stage name Bobi Wine. He plans to run for president and has been arrested several times in the past year for political activities.

Uganda's ‘President for Life’ Could Face Closest Vote in Decades

Kizza Besigye, an opposition politician who has failed to unseat Museveni at previous disputed elections, had 13 percent, while 20 percent of voters were undecided.

Uganda's ‘President for Life’ Could Face Closest Vote in Decades

The poll suggests pressure may be mounting on Museveni, who’s one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders. He won 61 percent of ballots in the last election in February 2016 amid international concern over the vote’s credibility. Opponents have warned that parliament’s removal of an upper age-limit for presidential candidates in late 2017 would allow the 74-year-old to seek re-election and become ‘president for life.’

Information and Communications Technology Minister Frank Tumwebaze dismissed the “agendas” behind the publication of the poll. “It shows who the person leading is, despite their ‘below 50 percent’ spin,” he said on Twitter. “Ugandans are clear, emphatic and unapologetic on which party and leader they support.”

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