The Option of a Peaceful Power Transition in Uganda is Very Uncertain yet President Museveni Isn’t Immortal

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Whereas Obama is leaving office for a man he never wanted and supported, President Museveni is yet to think about who to hand power to

KAMPALA, Uganda: Great men have always been known for selflessness. In Africa, the most memorable of democratic leaders was Nelson Mandela, one that peacefully left office. So much happened after the Electoral Colleges announced Donald Trump as the new American President.

The streets were flooded with protestors, the media has satirized the Republican’s victory. He has been accused of having connived with Russia’s Putin to cause conundrum for Hilary’s campaigns. Even then, the constitution has still been respected. Much as Trump is very hated the world over, Obama will still leave office for him. Maybe it’s because of their constitutional term limits or perhaps the Americans have been raised right.

Thinking of democracy at home, as far as Ugandan History goes, there was one transition of power that had some civility to it… the hand over from the British Monarch. Even then, many lives had been lost in the fight for independence. It is important to note however that the struggle for freedom in this country was not as vile as it had been in the other African countries.

Compared to the East African countries, Uganda’s cost for independence was a cheap one. Matter of fact, one can say power was handed to UPC without much of a struggle. Most of Uganda’s popular struggles happened after the departure of the colonialists.

After Sir Edward Muteesa was sworn in as President of the first Ugandan Republic under the 1963 constitution, there never came another peaceful transition of power. The 1962 constitution left the governance of Uganda under the Monarch.  The second constitution of 1963 made the president a ceremonial leader. The executive powers were administered mostly by the Prime Minister who became acting president in the absence of the President. That constitution gives reason to why the man who led the country to Independence settled for Prime Minister.

At the change of the constitution in 1966, where the president’s executive powers were increased, Obote deposed Edward Muteesa, took office as President and abolished the position of Prime Minister. The Buganda kingdom suffered under this change inclusive of the King’s exile. In 1971, Idi Amin, a General in Obote’s Army, conducted a military coup that saw Obote out of office – which was the birth of Military rule in Uganda.

In 1979, Amin was thrown out of office by Yusuf Lule (with him came the second Republic) who ruled for three months. Godfrey Binaissa took charge of office after Lule until he was deposed in 1978. After him came Paulo Muwanga whose rule lasted only 11 days to make way for Milton Obote’s second rule in 1978 after the presidential commission. Obote was overthrown for the second time by General Bazilio Olara Okello thus the second phase of Military Rule in Uganda. Tito Okello then took over office in 1985. He was over thrown by Museveni’s NRM, then NRA, to see in the third Republic and the constitutional reform in 1995.

That brief history of power transition since the declaration of independence, proves that the country hasn’t seen off a president peacefully. Putting into consideration the time for which the current president has governed the country, it’s very unlikely that Uganda is ready for any sort of Presidential change. For starters, it is difficult to see a worthy replacement, not that Museveni is unreplaceable, but I mean – look at the alternatives.

Dr. Kizza Besigye: a man that cannot stand his ground. Now and then he promised his supporters that he would do whatever it took to see that Museveni leaves office (even if it took war). He never came through. I wouldn’t wish that the change came with force. I can’t however, trust a leader that makes empty promises.

Amama Mbabazi: a lawyer that can’t leave his comfort zone – not a good trait for a leader. Abed Bwanika: the man that only appears on the political scene when running for presidency. Those are the few that I (personally) can consider for a replacement for now. Looking away from the diplomat politicians, military rule is no option for governance. The military should be an arm of government, not the government.

Besides, Uganda is not accustomed to changes. A thirty-year-old man hasn’t known any other president. The population has lost hope. We tend to forget that Museveni is not immortal. He might not be thrown out of power, but he won’t live forever. Ugandans should brace themselves for the time of a power vacancy that will need to be filled. Without the norm of democracy embedded in today’s political practitioners, a peaceful power transition is the last thing the people can dream of.

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Kenneth is currently a Mass Communication student at St Lawrence University. He holds a certificate in History and Literature. He is a social political critique, good creative writer and a poet.