Heightened security in Uganda, as the national elections are only two days away. Uganda has a strange history of democracy, with the first national election in 1962, followed by long periods of dictatorship and violent overthrowing of governments, until in 1986 Yoweri Museveni’s rebel National Resistance Army took power. Since then, Museveni’s been president of Uganda, even winning elections (controversially, but not necessarily undemocratically). For a while, there was the no-party democracy, which banned political parties from fielding candidates, but in a 2005 referendum, it was voted that party politics be re-introduced to Uganda. The last election was in 2006, with a restored multi-party system – the first multiparty election in 25 years. Museveni won the presidential vote, and his party, the National Resistance Movement, won the majority of parliamentary seats. It is expected that he’ll win again this Friday.
I asked my cab driver from the airport last night who he thought would win. He said Museveni would. “We don’t want confusion,” he explained. I got the impression that confusion could mean turmoil, not that Ugandans would be befuddled by new government.
The signs that litter the streets claim that Museveni is running on a platform of peace, unity and transformation for prosperity. And, perhaps that’s what he provides – the centre and south of the country seem to think so. He’s been credited with maintaining stability, for strengthening the economy and for having one of the best AIDS records in Africa. And, he’s been fighting the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army in the north for over 20 years. Of course, others might argue that the reason victory over the LRA hasn’t been achieved is that this war is good business and makes good political sense for Museveni. And, while the rest of the Uganda may be regaining its status as the pearl of Africa, the north is still in shambles and still in fear. Most people still live in IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) Camps, herded there for their protection years ago. But, the protection hasn’t eliminated attacks, nor has it assured decent sanitation, food, education or proper community living for the thousands upon thousands who are growing up, living life, and raising families in these camps.
Friday’s elections will likely bring another victory for Museveni and his party. It’s hard to know if this is a bad thing. The international community (aka the UN and the International Criminal Court) have been involved in the peace processes and trying to hold those top leaders of the LRA accountable for atrocities committed and they haven’t been more successful in bring peace and security back to northern Uganda. Who knows if another elected President would be better.
Even though the election looks foretold, I’ll look forward to the results, and stay indoors – just in case.