Monday, February 28, 2011

Uganda Elections and Some Other Things

Uganda's presidential elections were over a week ago (February 18) and I apologize for taking this long to express my opinion; I blame the tests and trials of moving. Museveni garnered over 68% of the vote, winning a fourth term and surprising no one. Despite claims of irregularity (voting materials arriving late at some locations, security personnel seen as intimidating at others) there was relatively little violence (less than one hundred people were arrested for fighting and bringing weapons to polling stations)the vote is widely held as valid and M7 will lead Ugandans through 2016 and undoubtedly bring Ugandan politics to a new level of corruption.

M7's practice of dirty politicking is not a secret:all Ugandans know that he pays off MPs in order to have Parliamentary votes swing in his favor; that he uses government funds for private purposes (such as this most recent election campaign); and, though he claims to work for and understand the poor rural masses, M7 actively retains money in the urban centers, making Uganda's poor poorer. But he stills gets votes because on one side you have people who align themselves with the M7 and the NRM, thus hoping to benefit from the spoils, and the other side you have those who become apathetic and no longer believe it is worth it to try and vote Museveni out of office. He will leave when he leaves, so why not just wait?

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for M7) there are other countries who currently demand our attention: Cote d'Ivoire, Libya, Bahrain, and now Oman (not to mention continued attention being paid to Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen.) Additional thoughts on Ugandan corruption will have to wait.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Countdown to Uganda's Elections

Ugandans head to the polls on the 18th to elect the next president, though I use the word "next" loosely: Museveni will likely win and remain in power for another five years. However, Museveni's main opposition, Kiiza Besigye, has warned that he will "support a popular protest against an illegitimate decision of the election," noting that the police do not have the power to "prevent a protest like the ones in Tunisia and Egypt."

Strong words, but despite possible election rigging and harassment of opposition parties, I doubt Ugandans will rise up in revolution if Museveni remains in office, despite Besigye's claim of supporting "a popular protest against an illegitimate decision of the election." Uganda does not have the fear, uncertainty and harassment which led citizens to revolt in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt. Museveni may be a dictator, but he is seen as the lesser of many evils and following elections, the status quo will remain the same.