Yoweri Museveni has been president longer than most Ugandans have been alive, but the ageing leader shows no sign of retiring as he seeks yet again to extend his rule.
Shortly after Museveni took power in 1986, ending years of bloodshed and chaos under murderous tyrants, the young president mused that leaders overstaying their welcome lay at the heart of Africa’s problems.
But nearly four decades later the introspection is gone and Museveni — once hailed in the West as a model African leader committed to good governance — ranks among the world’s longest-serving and, increasingly, authoritarian rulers.
His genial face and penchant for folksy parables belie a past as a wily guerrilla fighter and a ruthless political survivor.
In his 35-year reign, Museveni has fused state and party so effectively, and crushed political opposition so totally, that any serious challenge to either him or his National Resistance Movement is impossible.
Many see his return to office for a sixth straight term after January 14 elections as a foregone conclusion.
Three-quarters of Ugandans are under 30, so most of the country has never known anyone else in charge.
At 76 — though some opponents say he is older — Museveni says he is fighting fit, occasionally performing push-ups before crowds and jogging in his office.
In 2020, he joined Instagram and added a childhood name, Tibuhaburwa, to his official title.
Unbound by Uganda’s constitution — it was amended twice to remove presidential term and age limits — many believe Museveni, who never speaks publicly of succession and has broken past promises to stand down, plans to rule for the rest of his days.