From Kampala to Gulu and back again, and what is most pressing to report is the continuing uncertainty surrounding the presidential elections held on February 18. Contrary to some concerns leading up to election day, the presidential elections were peaceful, if not entirely fair. Not fair, perhaps, but not necessarily off the mark. The results, as I ask around, seem to reveal expectations and, from many I’ve spoken with, preference (for differing reasons). Nevertheless, there is still unease and a potential for conflict.
It seems unlikely that Museveni really won almost 70% of the votes. There are stories of registered persons who were denied the ability to vote because their names were absent from the voters registration list, the list they’d confirmed their names were on two months previous. There are also tales of possible acts of ballot stuffing, as well. And yet, it seems that most agree that even if the numbers aren’t accurate, Museveni’s win does, in fact, represent the people’s will.
It is also telling that it seems that this is the first year that northern districts voted for Museveni. It is said that while other politicians attempted to condemn Museveni’s past performance or his character, he focused on issues. While others concentrated on the past, he promoted development for the north, highlighting a possible bright future. Some say people in the northern regions also credit him with their current peaceful conditions. Although the latest attempt at a peace agreement with the LRA rebels was never signed, the people of northern Uganda have experienced relative calm for a few years now. There are positive feelings about working towards a strong future, rebuilding undisturbed.
Museveni’s opposition, though, is still disputing their losses. It seems uncertain what effects they hope to produce, but they seem motivated by international news, by the recent uprisings that are toppling governments. A couple of days ago, the national Ugandan newspaper, the Daily Monitor, presented an interview with the more successful of the losers, Dr. Kizza Besigye, in which he calls first for protests, but leaves the door open for other alternatives. It reports that “all the losers have rejected the poll result, and four of them, including Dr Besigye, have called for countrywide peaceful demonstrations to force Mr Museveni out of State House.” (Feb. 28, 2011) What is most unsettling is the possible ‘alternatives’. Dr. Besigye is also quoted as claiming that he has “never ruled out the use of arms to remove a dictatorship.” The headline of this news report was “Besigye: I can’t rule out war.”