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Uganda's Museveni Bids as Mbabazi Defects From Ruling Party

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni inspects the nation's Honor Guard upon his arrival to deliver his state of the nation address in the capital Kampala, June 4, 2015.

Last Friday, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni picked up nomination forms that will allow him to stand for president in 2016. That same day, his political rival Amama Mbabazi defected from the nation's ruling political party, saying he will run as an independent.

Last week the headquarters for the nation's ruling party, the NRM, was packed with supporters who waited with anticipation for President Yoweri Museveni. Arriving around midday, Museveni greeted the crowd cheerfully, picking up his forms and confirming his place as a presidential flag bearer of the NRM.

Museveni will be standing for his 5th term in office. He said it was a decision that he and the historical members of the NRM made together. Museveni will be running uncontested within the NRM party.

That's because his anticipated rival, Amama Mbabazi, decided to run as an independent. Mbabazi said that while he's still a member of the NRM, the party needs to re-examine itself, accusing it of obstructing his candidature.

'President for life'

Museveni's decision to run again comes on the heels of President Barack Obama's recent remarks to the African Union that nobody should be “president for life.”

Former Vice President of Uganda Gilbert Bukenya agreed, saying Museveni should know better.

“He must know the consequences. He must know that we are not going to allow dictatorship," said Bukenya. "He must know that the people are tired of a long stay leader who used to tell the others that they've stayed a long time when they never stayed for more than 10 years."

Stability, growth

However, many credit Museveni's leadership for Uganda's stability and economic growth.

Longtime supporter and deputy presidential assistant Duncan Abigaba explains why Museveni retains staying power.

“People credit his peace and security credentials... because there is no single time in this country, in the history of this country where there has been this peace," said Abigaba. "So people are comfortable, they are saying well we might not have money in the pocket, but Museveni has brought the peace, and I can use this peace to do whatever I want. So Museveni should stay.”

While Museveni's presidential bid is clear, Mbabazi's remains murky. There is speculation that he will join the Democratic Alliance, an umbrella group of opposition parties. The alliance says it is open to Mbabazi joining, although they stress he will still have to work hard to become the Democratic Alliance's flag bearer.