Why President Eduardo Do Santos’s Succession Plan Is a Good Model for President Museveni 

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JOSE Eduardo dos Santos and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
JOSE Eduardo dos Santos and Yoweri Kaguta Museveni

Last Friday, long serving Angolan president Eduardo Dos Santos confirmed that he will eventually step down from power in august this year after having served the oil rich country for 37 years without any interruption.

President Eduardo’s announcement came as a complete surprise to most political analysts who are cynical about Africa’s power hungry leaders.

Even after that proclamation, the pessimists still doubt whether Mr. Do Santos will live up to his word and indeed step down from power.

Having seen many African leaders make very good political proclamations and later renege on them, the analysts believe that the Angolan president might change his mind and continue ruling his country.

The most recent case of Gambia’s president Yaya Jammeh , who lost elections and even congratulated the eventual winner , Mr. Ardanmar  Barrow, but later changed his mind and vowed to cling on.

If it was not for the practical intervention of the regional powers of ECOWAS, Yaya Jammeh would have still been president of Gambia to date.

There are many other cases where African leaders have reneged on their own proclamations.

But this time it appears likely that the Angolan president is going to follow through with his succession plan.

At 75 years, Eduardo do Santos seems to have undergone through the proverbial laws of diminishing returns. He must have felt that he has done enough for his country and needs to rest.

And if he succeeds to handover over to his defense minister, it will have set another good precedence for African democracy which has suffered so many setbacks.

The Angolan succession model will then be a good point of reference for most African leaders who have found it difficult to handle the succession issue.

And one good student of this Angolan succession model is Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.

Uganda shares similar historical facts, since they both underwent long spells of civil war.

Angola suffered two decades of civil war with rebel leader Jonas Savimbi who made it ungovernable in a more similar way that Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony wrecked havoc in Uganda for more than two decades.

And both countries have endured a long phase of rehabilitating themselves from the devastation of civil war.

There is a very good chance that president Museveni will certainly follow Angola’s succession model and surprise everyone with his retirement.

At 72 years now, president Museveni is just two years younger than his Angolan counterpart.

By the time his current term expires in 2021, he will be 76 years old, which is again two years older than the current age that Eduardo has chosen to retire.

Therefore there is every reason to believe that this analogy will rub off the Ugandan leader and he steps down in 2021.

This is given more credence by the mere fact that pres8ident Museveni himself once proclaimed that he believed that he couldn’t serve beyond 75 years.

Another fact that enhances this probability of a Museveni retirement in 2021 is also the constitutional imperative that bars leaders above 75 years from contesting for the presidency.

Although there are agitations for the amendment of the constitution to lift the age limit, to pave way for Museveni to have another shot at the presidency, the mood in the country is not permitting enough.

The recent elections have proved that president Museveni’s popularity has reached an all time low.

The only remedy he needs to revive his popularity ratings among Ugandans is to step down.

And once he does that, he will instantly become a hero in his own right.

It must be recalled that president Museveni fell out with most of his bush war colleagues simply because he embarked on a longevity project that saw the lifting of the term limits that paved way for him to contest for another two terms.

Ordinarily, he was expected to step down in 2005 to pave way for another leader to emerge through the NRM.

But when he clinged on, many of his peers walked out on him , while many others were sacked from cabinet.

Some of the people who fell out with Museveni over this succession issue included his childhood friend, the late Eriya Kategaya who pleaded that the only gift Museveni could give Uganda was his peaceful transition of power from him to another leader.

But instead Museveni went on to amend the constitution which allowed him to contest again in 2006, 2011 and 2016.

But the general outcries for him to step down have not evaporated.

Many Ugandans are agitated that the Ugandan president might fail to handle the succession issue and plunge the country into chaos.

They quote the case of many countries where leaders who have reigned for long have plunged their countries into total chaos.

For instance when Houphout boigny was the leader of Ivory Coast, his country was the food basket of West Africa. His country produced one of the best coffee in the world.

But Boigny ruled forn33 years and when he died, Ivory Coast went into a state of anarchy because he had left no succession plan.

Today one of the former presidents of Ivory Coast, Mr. Laurent Gbagbo is in The Hague undergoing trial for war crimes.

Mr. Gbagbo had tried to cling on to power even when he had lost to President Allasane Ouattarra.

Another good case of countries that have suffered simply because of a lack of a durable succession plan is the democratic republic of Congo where former president Joseph Mobutu was kicked out by the gun.

His successor Laurent Kabila was also assassinated paving way for his son Joseph Kabila to takeover.

But while Kabila junior has been caught by the constitutional requirement for him to step down having served the two terms, he has refused to go.

Congo is now in democratic suspense.

You can also talk of Libya where its former leader Col Muamar Ghadafi reigned for 42 years and was forced out by war, leaving his country in shambles.

All these are cases to show that the Ugandan leader needs to select a succession model which enable him to put Uganda in the league of stable countries.

And the Angola succession model looks a more visible option for President Yoweri Museveni.

 

 

The Author Fred Daka Kamwada Is A Researcher And A Blogger

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Join Fred for the latest News and Analysis in Politics in Uganda and Around Africa. Fred Daka Kamwada is a journalist and a blogger you can connect with him on kamwadafred@gmail.com