Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, 76, will cement his position in the league of African leaders who have ruled for long periods. He will be sworn in on May 12.

Ahead of his sixth consecutive term, he ranks fourth in the club of the longest-serving incumbents and seventh in African history.

Analysts are uncertain about his willingness and ability to use the next five years to, not only reunite Ugandans after a violent campaign and contested result, but also to open avenues for a possible successor within his National Resistance Movement (NRM) party.

"What all this means for Uganda's future broadly is akin to what Zimbabwe faced under [now late Robert] Mugabe," said Timothy Kalyegira, Ugandan researcher and newspaper columnist.

"It raises questions of how much longer the NRM can continue depending on one man for its election victories and when he might signal a succession plan."

Mugabe led Zimbabwe with an iron fist for 37 years but was overthrown in a military coup led by his allies in November 2017. 

Museveni got 59% of the Jan. 14 vote. Parliamentary election results were still being collated by Wednesday, Jan. 21, but his party had won more than 300 of the 426 seats.  Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, 38, a musician and politician better known as Bobi Wine, emerged second with 35%.  His National Unity Platform (NUP) had secured about 60 parliamentary seats.

At least 52 mainly NUP supporters died in clashes with security forces after Bobi Wine was arrested as he campaigned and after the presidential election result was announced Jan. 16. The opposition leader, under house arrest since the election, has said he will contest the result in court.  Museveni's government blocked the internet days before the election thus results were compiled and transmitted manually, triggering opposition fears for NRM vote cheating. The U.S. has raised concern over the irregularities.

Museveni insists the election was the most "cheating-free" in Uganda since 1962 and complained Jan. 20 that just five African governments had congratulated him.

Crispin Kaheru, representative of the Uganda Independent Election Observers told Business Times"The processes in the lead up to Jan. 14 was tainted with challenges - violence, intimidation, use of hate language, disinformation and generally closing space for alternative voices. When this election is done, all these will have to be taken into account to assess how the election was on the balance of probability."

Speaking hours after the announcement of the election result, Museveni pledged free education and health care at public facilities in the next five years, warned the opposition against violence and declared the army's readiness to contain them.

However, in a Jan. 17 editorial, a Uganda independent newspaper, Daily Monitor advised Museveni against overreliance on the military.

"A country that has just gone through an election should not be relying on the military to ensure peace," said the paper.

"All the political and other players need to proactively look to feed into a process that ensures that when President Museveni finally leaves power, the country will have an opportunity to build on what has been done and go forward, not backward.  This is extremely urgent since Museveni is now 76 years old and will have been 40 years in power at the end of the term he has just acquired."

The NRM has not formally discussed Museveni's succession but the meteoric rise of his son, Kainerugaba Muhoozi, 47, in the military has fed speculation that he personally, has a preferred successor already.

But Kaheru and Kalyegira think Bobi Wine will be a factor. The former urged the opposition leader to use his party's position in parliament to limit NRM excesses while the latter thinks Bobi Wine has a big chance in the next election.

"At close to 60 parliamentary seats, the NUP is much nearer a glass half full than half empty and so it will most likely go with this significant showing and start planning for the 2026 general election," Kalyegira told Business Times.