Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni shows his ink-marked thumb after casting his ballot at the Kaaroh high school polling station in Kiruhura, Uganda, on January 14 ,2021. Image Credit: AFP

Yoweri Museveni has been president longer than most Ugandans have been alive, and his disputed election win Saturday cements his place among the world's longest serving leaders.

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 - has joined the ranks of those he once criticised, winning a sixth term in office.

In his 35-year reign Museveni has fused state and party so effectively, and crushed political opposition so totally, that any serious challenge to him or his National Resistance Movement was made impossible.

Museveni will thus continue his rule over a population where three-quarters are under 30 and have never known anyone else in charge.

At 76, 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.