Kenyan And Ugandan Elections -- A Tale of Two Universes

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Dictator Museveni examines a phoney church baptism register and discovers he's 70, not 73, so he can run for president again in four years. Wonder how God will treat that priest.

[Commentary]

In Uganda, during his 31-years of military dictatorship Gen. Yoweri Museveni changed the constitution in 2005 to remove the two five years’ term-limit to allow him to rule till death.

His acolytes are now testing the waters to see if the 75-year age limit can also be removed. The dictator treats the constitution like toilet paper.

To guarantee "victory" he appoints all the members and staff of the Electoral Commission (EC) and controls its operations. When Ugandans demanded for the independence of the EC, he instead added the word "Independent" to read IEC.

The dictator creates geographical electoral constituencies to suit his personal designs. He institutes measures that determine whom he is to compete with. He frames those that he doesn't approve of with concocted criminal charges as a way of either keeping them out of the race or bogging down their campaign efforts.

He compels public servants to campaign for him or else lose their positions and livelihood. He blackmails voters by telling them how he as the controller of public resources and would not extend developmental programs through the representative of their choice in Parliament unless their choice is his.

During election campaign periods, he creates a war-like situation so as to instill fear in the population. He then uses the security forces to torment with violence, curtail the freedom of movement, assembly and association of his opponents before, during and after the campaigns.

State-inspired election violence leaves many with grievous bodily harm, injury, kidnap, detention or death. He brands the opposition as "enemy terrorists" bent on setting the country on fire. He uncontrollably uses public financial and material resources in furtherance of his election campaigns while at the same time suffocating the opposition's sources of finance and logistics.

Gen. Museveni publicly threatens to "return to war" if the opposition is voted into power before declaring that he won't hand over power anyway if he loses the elections. Regime cadres and security officers prevail over the EC in the conduct of its operations.

During the February 2016 elections, the EC Chairman Badru Kiggundu --a Museveni appendage-- even regretted having allowed opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye on the ballot paper.

On Election Day, the army, police and other private militias are deployed on every inch of the country in order to instill fear in the population. Through the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Gen. Museveni disables communication by blocking social media and even shutting down some radio stations.

By the time the final results are announced his main contenders and some of their supporters are either in detention or on the run being hunted by the security machinery over fictional charges.

Meanwhile, Kenya has maintained a two five years’ presidential term limit in its constitution, which is respected and not treated like toilet paper. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in Kenya is comprised of representatives from all stakeholders like the opposition political parties, civil society and religious institutions. No one is restricted from contesting for any elective office by virtue of his or her ethnic, political and social affiliation unlike in Gen. Museveni's Uganda.

Mobility by opposition during campaigns is not restricted. Security forces are not used by the sitting government to harass and curtail the opposition during campaigns. Public servants are not involved in sabotaging and curtailing opposition campaign efforts. The opposition is treated with dignity as fellow Kenyans and not enemies.

The campaign period ends without state orchestrated violence such as seen in Museveni's Uganda. Imagine the ruling party accepting to relocate its final rally to Nakuru because the Uhuru Park in the city of Nairobi was to be used by the opposition NASA for its final rally.

Yes, the head of ICT at IEBC, Chris Msando's murder is an ugly stain. It must be solved and all skeletons exposed.

In Kenya, still, campaigns ended without a single opposition contestant or supporter being held in detention unlike here.

Both the ruling party and the opposition had no militias allied to their respective camps. On the Election Day, the population freely trotted to the polling stations without fear or restrictions.

The opposition alleged that the IEBC computer system had been hacked into. The IEBC accepted to investigate by way of carrying out a manual audit of the results forms submitted from the constituencies which would not, and did not happen in Museveni's Uganda.

In Kenya in 2015, the court granted the opposition request for the results at constituency level to be regarded as final and the IEBC complied with that ruling. The IEBC dismissed on spot two of its Election Officials who attempted to tamper with the exercise.

Even when the opposition put its supporters on standby for mass action, the government did not detain the leaders on flimsy charges of terrorism. The government did not panic by shutting down social media so as to disable mobility. Local and international observers and media outlets were afforded unlimited access to the exercise and they overwhelmingly commended the electoral process as having been free, fair, transparent and credible.

While Kenya has demonstrated that it has moved away from the effects of decades of former President Daniel Arap Moi's tyrannical rule, Gen. Museveni and Kagame are caught up in the struggle to prove that they are more skilled in savage rigging of elections than their predecessors.

The Kenya election has also proven that without being dragged into partisan politics by the sitting government, the security forces can act professionally with impartiality. Moreover, by comparison, the Kenya police is a mentor to its Ugandan counterpart.

If there was any rigging in Kenya, it was done in a "civilized" way and if evidence emerges they must be weighed and acted on.

There is a possibility of a low intensity conflict creeping up in Kenya arising out of this election that may drag in some key regional players.

Still, compared to Museveni's Uganda, Kenya's election shows the country is moving into the modern era.

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