Joseph Biden, the new president of the United States, recently assumed office amidst global interest and fascination. This is a tough time for his predecessor, iconoclastic Donald Trump, and his rabid supporters who have been left to rue their shenanigans that left many stunned. They had sought to erode the time-tested American democratic credentials. Almost within the same interval, in Uganda, Africa, former guerilla fighter, Yoweri Museveni, who became president in 1986, was once again making a mockery of democracy, subverting all known norms, values, ideas and ideals of democracy. Since Museveni seized power in 1986, the United States has had seven presidents, namely Ronald Reagan, who was president in 1986 and whose term ended in 1989; George Bush (1989-1993), Bill Clinton (1993-2001), George. W. Bush (2001-2009), Barack Obama (2009-2017), Donald J. Trump (2017-2021) and Joseph. R. Biden (2021 to date).
The same man who led the African Liberation Front (ALF) to oust the late despot, Idi Amin, militarised the January 14, 2021 presidential poll. He has consistently weakened all the institutions designed to promote the right of franchise by his eligible countrymen, hounded perceived enemies, and insulted the sensibilities of the citizenry through duplicitous campaigns and propaganda. Just like he attempted to do in the previous sham elections, the 77-year-old Museveni assailed faculties and public opinion, shutting down the social media space. He has not been weaned from his self-conceit and irrational view that Uganda could constitute itself into an island away from the rest of the world. These and many other clownish acts show the deficiencies in the old despot.
Rising corruption, political intolerance, consistent clampdown on the opposition, the silencing of dissenting voices, and interference in the internal affairs of other African nations have characterised his 35-year-old regime. Museveni awarded himself victory by 59 per cent of the votes cast in the recent presidential poll. Afraid of the consequences of his dubious action, he quickly deployed his goons to place the candidate of the main opposition National Unity Platform (NUP), Robert Kyagulanyi, otherwise called Bobi Wine, under house arrest. This was after he had deployed coercive weapons of the state to cow the citizenry and silence all voices against the irregularities before and during the poll. He had equally paved the way for his perpetuation in power by altering the Ugandan Constitution on the maximum number of terms that a president can seek power. Museveni clearly does not think of tomorrow, only today and whatever he can corner for himself and his cronies.
Museveni has frittered away all the goodwill that accrued to him after leading successful struggles against notorious Ugandan leaders. Having tasted power, Museveni has himself become a full-blown totalitarian and sit-tight president whose mission in power is to ruin and mortgage the lives of many generations of Ugandans. For example, observers were not allowed to monitor the recent poll: the Ugandan authorities denied them accreditation. Indeed, a particular African leader had to take down a message congratulating Museveni after spontaneous scorn and fury. It is an irony that the Ugandan leader once revered for his seemingly progressive ideology has become an agent of instability in a country with some of the most horrifying histories of violent resistance.
Museveni cannot claim to have a monopoly of knowledge, wisdom, intellect and vision capable of giving Uganda the best in terms of leadership and governance. He should not vainly equate himself to the State or the chief custodian of the rights of the people. He can never become the constitution or the charters of the United Nations, African Union and other international bodies. While he continues deluding himself as the best thing to have happened to Uganda since its independence from Britain in 1962, it is apparent that Museveni has totally outlived his usefulness. It is high time he saved himself, his people and his country from further infamy. Happily, though, the whole world has stood up against his sham election, though he is naturally putting up a bold face, hoping that the global fury and opprobrium will soon subside. But he cannot survive in his self-chosen valley of isolation and ignominy unless he recants and allows the rights of Ugandans to flourish.
The Musician, Bobi Wine, currently the face of the opposition in Uganda, cannot be considered as the best that the country has to offer. Museveni has muzzled genuine opposition and made their structures ineffectual and ineffective, describing them as foreign agents. Sadly, the political credentials of many other countries on the continent are just as atrocious and despicable due to blatant disregard for due process, disdain for democratic values, and corrupt tendencies. Many Ugandans are living in ghettoes, a country which the late former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, once described as the Pearl of Africa.
The international community must rise up to the occasion: the majority of Ugandans whose patrimony and future are being mortgaged need help to free themselves from the iron fists of a rabid despot. The latest election in Uganda is a disservice to Uganda and Africa as a whole. The sanctity of the ballot box must be restored. Efforts must be made to restore public confidence and arrest the seeming descent of Uganda into the abyss.
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