“We are deeply concerned about the political and social climate in the country right now. We hope for a free, fair and credible vote and call on parties, government authorities and police to exercise their role for the common good ”, this is the statement drawn up by the Ugandan Catholic Bishops.
A justified appeal given the violence demonstrated by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni (in power since 1987) during the election campaign. Using the Covid-19 excuse, the government has imposed rallies with only 200 people wearing masks. A law broken by the government itself that gathered to NRM meeting with thousands of people without any health precautions. When it was discovered that the opposition held meetings at night, a curfew was imposed and (to be safe) electoral rallies were banned. To camouflage this obvious limitation of expression of the opposition parties with health prevention measures to curb the pandemic, the government would have artificially increased the cases of contagion.
Government crackdowns and Covid-19 prevention measures are limiting opposition leader Bobi Wine‘s ability to mobilize and strengthening Museveni’s chances of remaining in power, analysts say. “The January elections will almost certainly lead to Museveni’s victory. However, the inevitability of the overall result should not blind us to the fact that the country’s politics are changing, even if the regime does not“, wrote academics Sam Wilkins and Richard Vokes.
The repression against the opposition is extremely harsh. On Monday, January 4, more than 100 members of Bobi Wine’s presidential campaign team were released on bail after their arrest while campaigning on December 31.
The arrest and prosecution of 126 people, 90 of whom were part of the team coordinating the election campaign, is the latest of multiple obstacles to Bobi Wine’s presidential bid by Uganda’s security forces. Among those arrested and presented before a courthouse 100km southwest of the capital are Wine Eddy Mutwe‘s personal bodyguard, his musical partner Nubian Li and music producer and close associate Dan Magic. At least seven of them will remain in custody until January 19, the local Ugandan newspaper Daily Monitor reported Tuesday.
The National Unity Platform presidential candidate was also arrested during the failed New Year’s campaign break, but was brought home to Kampala by military helicopter while his campaign team was arrested pending formal charges.
Bobi Wine is one of 10 candidates seeking to unseat the incumbent president, President Yoweri Museveni. It is also the first time in the last four elections that Museveni’s former rival, Kizza Besigye of the main opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), does not participate in the vote. After Besigye refused to make a fifth attempt for president, the opposition party instead chose Patrick Oboi Amuriat as president and presidential candidate in the polls on January 14. The FDC presidential candidate was also arrested and released several times during the election campaign, most recently on January 2.
Candidates also include two former military commanders, Major General Mugisha Muntu, who left the FDC after being boycotted within the party, and Lieutenant General Henry Tumukunde, a former security minister who is accused of treason. Despite Besigye’s absence from the race, President Museveni adopted the same methods he used against his former comrade in arms for the pool of new challengers and their main supporters.
Facebook closed a string of accounts belonging to Ugandan government officials accused of trying to manipulate public debate ahead of the elections on Thursday, the internet giant told AFP on Monday. “This month, we removed a network of accounts and pages in Uganda that engaged in Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) to drive public debate before the election. They used fake and duplicate accounts to manage pages, comment on other people’s content, impersonating users, re-sharing posts into groups to make them seem more popular than they were“, said Kezia Anim-Addo, head of Facebook communications for Sub-Saharan Africa. Anim-Addo said the network is linked to the ministry of information and communication technology.
Facebook actually hit not only the alleged Fake Accounts but also the real ones of many government officials and members of the ruling National Revolutionary Movement-NRM party, who have been there. have their pages removed. President Museveni’s account remained active. Museveni’s senior press secretary Don Wanyama, who saw both his Facebook and Instagram accounts shut down, accused Mark Zuckerberg of trying to influence the election. “Too bad there are foreign forces who think they can help and implant a puppet leadership in Uganda that is beneficial to their interests by disabling the online accounts of NRM supporters“, Wanyama said on Twitter.
The event raises international concerns as a multinational with fleeting and transnational borders, renowned for carrying out colossal tax evasions through legal tricks, comes to have so much power to influence the politics of a Sovereign State, assuming the right to decide who are the “Goods Guys” and who the “Bad Guys”. An alarm bell that must make us understand the need for strong intervention by the States to limit this parallel power, a direct threat to democracy.
The election date of January 14 sees the clash between two generations of Ugandans. Those who made the revolution (Museveni, 76), rebuilt the country and ensured an appreciable development, now become a brake for the nation due to their advanced age and those who were born on the margins of this development, in the ghettos where the future is uncertain: BobiWine 38 years old. In the 2011 elections I predicted to my wife that if Museveni would show up in 2017, it would mean the end of Uganda. We are in 2021 and the signs of Uganda’s economic decline and the emergence of dangerous social tensions are in the open.
The catastrophic and kleptomaniac management of the Covid-19 pandemic ($ 300 million in international aid disappeared into thin air), the slowing economy, the never-started oil industry, the senseless cold war against Rwanda and the equally senseless support for the military junta Hutupower in Burundi, associated with a now endemic corruption and the illegal trafficking of gold from the Congo recycled in the refinery in Entebbe, are some aspects (perhaps the rosiest) of reality lived in Uganda, ruled by an Old Man who lives in the past, risking to destroy all the good he did and the well-being he created when he was still strong.
There will certainly be fraud, demonstrations and police violence. It is a scenario that repeats itself with every election. Until now Museveni has managed to contain popular anger. Will he succeed this time too? Difficult to make prognostics at the moment. It is known only that in Kampala and in all cities, supermarkets have recorded record sales of food products. People stock up for three weeks and shut up in terror. The streets have been invaded by the army, a sign that the UPDF (Ugandan People’s Defense Force), the only one capable of ousting the Old Man, has chosen to support him for the umpteenth time. Just to be clear, the Kampala Police Commander said he will make protesters regret that they were born.
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