ugandan_diaspora_social_networking_event_2015_00

President Forever | The Electoral Race Has Started, But the Winner Seems Pre-Ordained – The Economist

0
Posted November 18, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Featured ~ 1,322 views

     

M77

THERE is a curious new vehicle crawling the streets of Kampala, Uganda’s capital. It is a pickup truck, but mounted on its back is a sort of mechanical merry-go-round. As it crawls through traffic, two mannequins pedalling bicycles do revolutions, their arms waving. Music blares out of speakers; the entire vehicle is festooned with political banners. And on its top is a sign, which reads simply, “Vote Museveni. President now. President forever.”

What better slogan for Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s president since he took power after a coup in 1985? A staunch ally of the West, he introduced multiparty elections in a country torn apart by Idi Amin. But he has been in power for almost 30 years and seems determined to stay for longer. In February Uganda will hold elections. They will be the most fiercely fought in the country in decades, and will probably not end with an unimpeachable result.

The campaigns were launched on November 3rd. There are eight presidential candidates, but only three are credible. Mr Museveni himself; Amama Mbabazi, a former prime minister who has broken with his one-time boss; and Kizza Besigye, a long-standing opposition leader who was Mr Museveni’s doctor in the bush wars of the 1980s. He has fought three elections since 2001 (and has been repeatedly arrested for doing so).

Each of the three held rallies. Mr Museveni’s launch was accompanied by an enormous gathering at Independence Park in the centre of Kampala. Hundreds of buses brought in supporters in yellow T-shirts; lines of soldiers toting guns guarded the perimeter. Mr Mbabazi’s supporters crowded into a football stadium in central Kampala shortly afterwards. The following day Mr Besigye’s supporters marched into the city covered in blue.

Yet the buzz conceals widespread apathy. “Elections have become a ritual in recent years,” says Dr Livingstone Sewanyana, the head of a local human-rights organisation. At the last election in 2011 turnout was just 59%, down from 71% in 2001. Mr Museveni’s supporters are largely bought, reckons Mr Sewanyana. Some say they are paid between 5,000 and 10,000 Ugandan shillings ($1.50-$3) to come to rallies, as well as given transport and food. Opposition supporters are more genuinely enthusiastic, but not very numerous.

Partly thanks to long suppression, the opposition is weak and divided. Mr Besigye has been running the same campaign for a decade now—each time struggling to compete with the resources and state power of Mr Museveni’s party, the National Resistance Movement. Mr Mbabazi brings some new supporters, but he is almost as tainted as the man he hopes to unseat. The two foes of the president are so far refusing to join forces: a meeting in London chaired by Kofi Annan, produced no agreement.

It seems unlikely this time that opposition leaders will be arrested or charged with treason (as Mr Besigye was in 2005). But all other institutions will be used to serve Mr Museveni. Already the state is his personal fiefdom: MPs are obsequious to the president; officials and judges serve at his whim, and ministerial jobs are given to allies and family members. Janet Museveni, the president’s wife, is a cabinet minister; Muhoozi Museveni, his son, is head of the presidential guard, the top army unit. In September, a meeting of Mr Mbabazi’s supporters was broken up by police who fired tear-gas canisters.

Sadly, his determination to hold on is hardly unique to Uganda: the whole of the Great Lakes region of Africa is plagued by presidents who won’t leave. In Rwanda Paul Kagame, president since 2000, may hold a referendum to erase a constitutional ban on running for a third term. Opposition there has been fiercely suppressed. In Burundi close to 200 people have been killed since April, when President Pierre Nkurunziza declared he would run for a third term. And in the Democratic Republic of Congo the government claims elections due next year will have to be delayed–giving President Joseph Kabila more time to consolidate his power. President now, president forever, is a slogan that a lot of leaders would be quite happy with.

Source –The Economist


About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.

0 Comments



Be the first to comment!


Leave a Response


(required)

ugandan_diaspora_social_networking_event_2015_00