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18th August 2018 - Is Uganda being made ungovernable?

Not all that long time ago the leader of one of the main opposition parties threatened to make Uganda ungovernable.

How we in the governing Movement Party laughed! By then it had been in power for over a quarter of a century, following its victory in the six-year Bush War. As soon as it became practicable the Movement introduced “One Man, One Vote” elections throughout the nation, which have been followed every five years.

 

The Movement has won each and every one of them, and done so, comfortably. Its Leader, Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, has remained President for over 30 years. The main Opposition Party has not been, as might have been the expected, either the Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) or the Democratic Party (DP), which had been the most popular at Independence, but the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). It has been headed by medical doctor, Kizza Besigye, for most of its life. He has stood for the presidency for all six elections and lost every single one, similarly his Party. He it was who, after the last time, spat out the bitter and unfortunate words of making Uganda ungovernable.

 

Very early on Thursday morning this week, I did wonder fleetingly if the threat hadn’t now materialised. At the Arua elections in Northern Uganda to replace a murdered MP, all hell had broken loose. Later there had been the shooting dead of another MP’s driver. This MP, a straight-talking young pop singer, Robert Kyagulanyi, brand-new to Parliament, would have been sitting in the seat in which the driver was shot. Was the killer trying to kill Kyagulanyi?

 

Apparently, it seemed that earlier President Museveni’s convoy had run into that of another MP, also from the Opposition, who was in Arua for the voting. This led to the Opposition youths to stone the President’s car, an unheard-of occurrence, and for wild scenes to break out. In calmer moments which didn’t arrive for a day or two, it became obvious that whoever had supervised the traffic which had led to the outbreak of law and order, had been seriously at fault. Unfortunately by then, after dropping off the President, his detail had returned, and serious disorder had started.

 

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It was irresponsible talk from the Government side that it spoke of Kassiano Wadri, who was standing as an Independent in the election, although supported by even some, including MPs of the Opposition FDC, which said he had been amongst those who threw stones at the Presidential convoy. Indeed he and those MPs, and many others, were rounded up, charged with Treason, and taken to various different places to await a Military court. Such dramatic raising of the bar, after incidents which could and should have been easily avoided, was seen by those affected as bad faith. Ironically it might have been the President’s warmth to ordinary people which could have played a part in the breakdown of order. He has always wanted to walk freely among them. But otherwise the opposing sections should have been strictly kept apart.

 

Late Wednesday, early Thursday things went from bad to worse. The singer MP, Robert Kyagulanyi (is he really guilty of the arsenal charge?) was rumoured to have been picked up and seriously injured, as were other MPs. A big number of ordinary Opposition supporters suffered the same fate. Talk from all sides was getting tougher by the minute. Behind the lines, was it the Opposition trying to make good their threat? If so, would you expect Government to stand idly by and let it happen? By Thursday evening after the TV stations had aired all sides of the argument, showing the escalation of the situation, it was clear that calmer voice and behaviour from every side, including Government, from the start, would have cleared the air.

 

But even there, the leading TV company, NTV, which seems to favour the Opposition over Government, held its main programme of the events without inviting a single Government representative, which should have been automatic. It wasn’t because of shortage of seating. The paid lawyer of the FDC was everywhere in the conversation, indeed spoke for the longest time. What did this point to? Might the programme host, my old friend, Patrick Kamara’s political slip been showing, his political stance? For shame, if so!

 

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It isn’t too late yet, and Government, being the father figure in every sense, should start the process. After all it had been the one to change the lives of Ugandans from the bad old days of Amin and Obote, and their savagery. It had taken the Six-Year Bush War to achieve that. And to go back to those times was unthinkable! I would go as far as dropping the charges in this matter where possible.

 

And Kassio Wadri, the embattled runner in the Arua Municipality seat at the centre of the storm? I hadn’t told you he had been a Minister in the Movement Government. He is very good company, a friendly soul. But I would be lying if I said he didn’t have a quick temper! But throw stones at the President? Rubbish! Anyway, Reader, he won the elections. As soon as he is freed (which he should be) he’ll take his seat in Parliament. Watch this space!


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