Sunday, February 26, 2006

Ugandan Elections 2006: 'til the cows come home

Museveni wins. The people of Uganda will have to wait 'til the cows come home for real democracy and political freedom to take hold, yet again.

Personally I find the fact that Museveni has won a third term as President of Uganda an affront on the struggles for true democracy all across Africa and around the world. That the Ugandan Parliament changed the country’s consititution to allow Museveni to remain in power speaks volumes about the real intentions of this leader and his political party, the National Resistance Movement. What is the NRM Party resisting, Democracy? At least the opposition party led by Dr. Kizza Besigye uses the word democratic in their name (Forum for Democratic Change). Note: this statement is not a political endorsement for Dr. Besigye and the FDC, so just relax and read on.

I remember back in 2003 when I had my first opportunity to discuss Ugandan politics and African regional issues with one of my few friends from Uganda who I will call
Mr. Busoga to protect his real identity. Mr. Busoga is an intelligent, engaged member of the community in Jinja, Uganda’s second largest city, located at the source of the White Nile River on Lake Victoria* about 80 Km from the capital of the country, Kampala. He is a Christian minister who has experience working with local and international NGO’s in Uganda and Rwanda, and he is a longtime member of the National Resistance Movement (the NRM). During our first meeting here in Germany we became involved in a lively discussion over politics and I can remember saying to him and his colleagues:

“Yoweri Museveni should not consider running again for President of Uganda but should instead prepare to step down and turn over the reigns of power to a younger candidate democratically elected by the people of Uganda. President Museveni should go back to farming and taking care of his cows.”

The look on my friend’s face was first shock, then bewilderment, and then anger. It was like he was saying to himself, “Who are you to be telling me about my president when YOUR president is invading Iraq and killing innocent women and children!!” Ugandans generally being a very polite people and loathe to seek a fight with total strangers (especially from Europe or America), Mr. Busoga offered no verbal rebuttal to my statement at the time. He did say to his colleagues afterwards when I had left that I was definitely an agent working for the
CIA. Ridiculous! The UK’s MI-6 would have been a better guess if their food wasn’t so bad and the assignments so lousy and they weren't so damn British.

Nonetheless Mr. Busoga and I had several communications about the politics of Uganda and the cross-border
crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the crisis in northern Uganda over a period of several months after his return to Uganda. I was able to learn more about how Mr. Busoga felt about a variety of national and global issues. A good friendship was started as a result of our meetings and communications and I am very pleased to have him as a friend today. Haven’t heard from him in awhile though. Could it have been something I said?

Anyway, back to Yoweri Museveni and the 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections in Uganda. When Yoweri Museveni came to power in 1986 after a series of bloody guerilla wars (using lots of child soldiers) resulting in the toppling of the infamous psychopath Idi Amin, followed by another dictator Milton Obote and the brief (6 month) rule of Tito Okello, Yoweri Museveni declared in his very own words to the whole world:

"The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power."

In a
recent interview on the CNN Inside Africa program President Yoweri Museveni was confronted with that very issue by CNN Africa correspondent Jeff Koinange. Museveni had the same look on his face that I saw on my friend’s face 3 years prior: shock, bewilderment, & anger. Except in this case it was Museveni putting on his trademark “act of defiance” face for international TV audiences and the few people in Uganda who can afford CNNI TV programming via cable or satellite reception. I couldn’t help but thinking to myself while viewing the program what kind of look would Museveni have on his face if key international donor countries decided to turn-off the money tap to his corrupt regime. Fat chance of that happening according to this February 26th Op-Ed article from Reuters: “Analysis: Uganda’s Museveni keeps his cows waiting” and I quote:

Museveni's win leaves Western donors in a dilemma. Unhappy that the constitution was changed to allow him to run for a third term, they were further infuriated by the brief detention of Besigye prior to the election on rape and treason charges, which then hampered his campaign. Some, including Britain, the main donor and former colonial power, cut aid. Now, however, they must continue dealing with Museveni, knowing further aid suspensions will only hurt Uganda's 27 million people, many of whom live in extreme poverty.

"The reaction of Western governments will generally be one of resignation," said British analyst
Tom Cargill. "Although no one will be particularly excited about it, most Western countries have accepted Museveni is here to stay, and they are not so unhappy given that stability is a major concern for many donors."

To make matters worse, Ugandan first lady
Janet Museveni has won an important seat in Parliament, making sure that power remains firmly “in the family” just in case something happens to hubby Yoweri. Mrs. Museveni’s candidacy was a bonafide case of “divine intervention” according to reports. Divine rule. Now where have we heard that concept before?

So, that’s it for this week’s report on
The Long Road to Democracy in Africa. Tune in again next week when we report on the fast-breaking news story“Picking up cowpies (aka BS) along the Road to Freedom”. In the meantime please take time to read the excellent blog posts, articles, and online multimedia presentations about Museveni’s Uganda assembled from some of the best in the online news and publishing business today. Ya’ll come back now, you here?

MSM online news articles and op-eds:

Google News search:
Uganda Museveni elections

Yahoo! News – CNN Video reports from Africa Correspondent Jeff Koinange
Uganda President fights for re-election (Feb. 22, 2006)
Afraid of the dark - plight of children in northern Uganda (Feb. 25, 2006)
Interview with opposition candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye (Feb. 22, 2006)

IRIN News:
Voting underway in presidential and parliamentary polls (Feb. 23, 2006)
Hunting for political support in neglected North (Feb. 15, 2006)
Profile on President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (Feb. 15, 2006)
Profile on main opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye (Feb. 15, 2006)

Reuters AlertNet:
Uganda’s Museveni keeps his cows waiting (Feb. 26, 2006)
Uganda votes in first multi-party poll in 25 years (Feb 23, 2006)
Uganda’s Museveni banks on support from ex-war zone (Feb 20, 2006)
Crisis Profile: What’s going on in Northern Uganda? (Jun 07, 2005)
Factbox: key facts on Uganda (Feb 22, 2006)

BBC News Online
Uganda’s Museveni wins elections – Feb. 25, 2006

The L.A. Times
Uganda’s Lurking Tyrant – Feb. 23, 2006
Stopping Uganda’s War on Children – Feb. 24, 2006

The East African Online Feb. 20-26, 2006 edition
Whoever wins, don’t you dare let Ugandans down… by Joachim Buwembo

The Monitor Online (Ugandan independent newspaper)
Your day to choose (Feb 23, 2006)
Inside Politics - Besigye vs Museveni Part I (can’t find it!?)
Inside Politics - Besigye vs Museveni Part II (Feb 22, 2006)
Multiparty or Military State by Andrew M. Mwenda (Feb 22, 2006)

PINR – The Power & Interest News Report
Museveni on the ropes, instability ahead - Jan. 04, 2006
Uganda’s upcoming presidential elections - Jul. 22, 2005

The Washington Post
Museveni warns on foregin meddlers - Feb 21, 2006
Ugandans put "Big Man" politics to vote - Feb 22, 2006

Wired News article on 2001 Presidential elections
Ploy intimidates Ugandan voters? – Feb. 28, 2001

Uganda’s Museveni wins flawed poll – Mar. 20, 2001

Top Bloggers coverage of the Ugandan elections and more:

Kenyan Pundit - Feb 22, 2006
Commentary on the Ugandan elections
( w/ full text from speech given by Professor Dr. Joe Oloka-Onyango. Dr Oloka-Onyango is a professor of law and the Director, Makerere University Human Rights and Peace Centre. His paper 'The socio-political context of the 2006 elections' was presented at the East African Law Society Symposium on Elections Law, Conduct and Dispute Resolution in Kampala on February 20, 2006.)

My Heart’s in Accra by Ethan Zuckerman
The Pitch is “not level” – Feb. 21, 2006
What to watch in the Ugandan election – Jan 09, 2006

The Head Heeb – Feb. 23, 2006
Decision in Uganda – Feb. 23, 2006
On the nature of occupation: the Congo Judgment considered – Dec. 19, 2005

Yebo Gogo – Feb. 23, 2006
Ugandan Elections

Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone for Yahoo! News
Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone - Uganda October 2005
Reflections from the Hot Zone - Uganda Justice, Grace and Defiance: What I learned from a 15-year old pregnant Ugandan girl.

Independent journalist Ruud Elmendorp’s blog
Africa Videoreporter
Ruud’s video reports gallery (Note: Jimmy of Uganda is my favorite)
Ruud’s Uganda country page

P. Scott Cummins (The Urbane R):
More warnings of civil war for Uganda Note: (corrected PINR report links below)
Museveni on the ropes, instability ahead
Uganda’s upcoming presidential elections
Blake Lambert asks the big question about Uganda
(Christian Science Monitors’s Notebook Africa)
What kind of democracy is this? - Jan. 04, 2006
Note: P. Scott Cummins has been hammering away at Museveni for ages. See his archives for lots more news and “Urbane R” analysis.

Other Online Resources:

“Who Killed Democracy in Africa?” - by Dr. Ali A. Mazrui, ICGS Director @ Binghamton State University of New York



jenbrea said...

Excellent post! (And incredibly comprehensive coverage of the election).

I find it particularly striking that Museveni actually said, ""The problem of Africa in general and Uganda in particular is not the people but leaders who want to overstay in power."

I remember writing about this very issue earlier this year (The Facade of Democracy Slipping in Uganda), but really, it was all very academic for me. I have still never quite made up my mind about why it is so easy for presidents in Africa - whether or not they are good or bad for the country - to stay in office forever.

Whatever one's think of Museveni, no matter how good he may have been for Uganda in many ways, it will all be for nothing if, when he does eventually leave (and no one lives forever), people find that the institutions he left behind aren't strong enough to keep steering the ship, so to speak.

So, if you were to read your crystal ball, what do you think Museveni's ultimate intentions are? Is he just unwilling to give up his power, or does he really believe he is the only man to lead Uganda?

BRE said...

Thanks for stopping by Jennifer and your November 23, 2005 post "The Facade of Democracy Slipping in Uganda" provides a good overview of the runup to these elections in Uganda and asks some very important questions.

In regards to your question about Museveni's ultimate intentions by staying in power at all costs, I think that he is unwilling to turn over power to any democratically elected successor from any poltical party AND he is suffering from illusions that he is the only person who can lead the country. Smart investigative reporting into Museveni's rule over the past 20 years might reveal something else that is very important.

Who are the individuals and companies hiding in the shadows that are financially benefitting from the illegally obtained minerals and timber from the eastern D.R. Congo AND from the millions in misappropriated aid and development funds Uganda has received from international donor countries over the past many years?

Follow the money Honey, follow the money.

jenbrea said...

I was always under the impression that the natural resources exraction was more an issue of looting and was not such a well-organized endeavor.

To play devil's advocate, why does it all matter if Museveni seems to still be so popular?

BRE said...

Sorry about the delay in answering your last question(s) Jennifer, I've been busy with the "Kenyan Shake-the-Snake Affair" re: police raids on the East African Standard newspaper and KTN headquarters.

The illegal exploitation of natural resources from the DR Congo and subsequent atrocities, enslavement, forced labor, mass rape and barbarism against the people in the eastern DRC is very well organized and has been ongoing for damn near a decade now. The governments of Uganda and Rwanda have been very involved with the militia operations, extraction logistics, and the export and sales of gold, diamonds, coltan, and timber taken illegally from the DRC. Other foreign governments and international crime networks are deeply involved as well, up to their necks in blood. This has been documented by various non-government organizations, news media, political organizations and governments (U.S., EU), UN security council investigations, and numerous eyewitness accounts. One of the most damning reports recently released was the judgement handed down by the International Court of Justice in the Hague re: DR Congo's claims for retribution from Uganda due to war crimes and illegal resource extraction during the 1990's Congo Wars. The ICJ is of course absolutely toothless as it can't do squat but hand down "judgements". The ICJ has no enforcement mechanisms or political backup from the EU or anyone else re: criminal issues down in Africa.

I shall be returning to this subject in the near future but in the meantime checkout information at the Human Rights Watch, Global Witness, International Crisis Group, and the U.N. Security Council websites on "illegal resource exploitation in the DRC" and "blood diamonds" for starters.

Also check the blogs of my Congolese friend Ali (the Malau) of "The Salon of News and Thought" and the U.K.'s Ingrid Jones at "Congo Watch" for more info on resource exploitation in the DRC.

Anne said...

We the people of the Commonwealth come together to sign this petition to demand that the Commonwealth be held accountable to its own committments under the Harare Declaration of 1991. Two past elections in Uganda in 2001 and 2006 have returned the incumbent after violent campaigns and rigged results as ruled by Uganda's Supreme Court and observed by local and international election observers. Zimbabwe was suspended from the Commonwealth for electoral fraud and violence, yet Uganda will be honored by hosting CHOGM 2007. We demand equal treatment of all member states regardless of the color or race of their citizenry. Act Now!

BRE said...

Thanks Anne for stopping by and alerting us to your petition. Readers interested in learning more about the Uganda Forum for Democratic Change should see the information listed below, including the FDC blog:

Anne Mugisha
Special Envoy, Office of the President FDC.

One Uganda One People

ForGodandmyAfrica said...

Lemmmings are small arctic animals that follow one after another over cliffs along the sea and fall to their deaths.
Ugandans are acting like Lemmings by choosing to follow only one leader for the past twenty years. They have limited thier options and alternatives for leadership and some day this will lead to thier demise as a nation. Why does a nation settle for only one leadership for more than twenty years, when the country is abundant with so many others with talent and ability that are just as good or better than M7?
According to the Lemming Conspiracy, Ugandans made such irrational choice because this conspiracy keeps them from expressing themselves as who they really are, with a vague feeling that they made the wrong choice but can't quite put a finger on it.
Ugandans have robbed themselves with their eyes wide open in terms of their limited choices for leadership and many of them don't even realize it! Those that think M7 is the only and only leader for Uganda in more than twenty years now, just don't know what is good for our country!
Political illiteracy in Africa is an epidemic, worse than the aids epidemic; because its so pervasive and leaders like M7 are feeding off of it and not just accumulating personal and family wealth but also the power that comes along with it. This is a calamity for our fledgling democracy.

BRE said...

Thank you to the visitor from Museveni Kaguta blog for you comment on this rather dated post. I can see from your comment and from a brief visit to your weblog that not everyone in Uganda is behaving like lemmings. Keep fighting (without violence) for a free and democratic government in Uganda.