Op-Ed: Uganda's Gen Museveni Is A Combination Of Louis XIV And Machiavelli

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Museveni 'le Grand.' Columnist compares his regime to Louis XIV's style

[Op-Ed: Africa]

Despite its resource abundance and resilience and once the envy of the world, the Uganda of Gen. Yoweri Museveni is now a failed state and vulnerable to external and internal shocks. 

I say Museveni not the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) government because Museveni like Louis XIV is the government and the state and does what he wants with impunity in today’s world that demands listening and responding to the wishes of the people. The democratic deficit he has created in terms of destroying institutions has allowed Museveni to act as he likes.

Louis, also known as Louis the Great or "Louis le Grand," did not summon parliament (Estates General) for once during his over 70 years reign. On the other hand Museveni has a parliament that does what he wants like Louis did what he wanted without parliament. Checks and balances or separation of powers did not exist under Louis XIV as they don’t under Museveni.Louis believed in greatness through wars that crippled a rich and densely populated country in Europe like Museveni is doing to Uganda today.Louis also liked expensive things like the Palace of Versailles. Museveni has a Gulf Stream presidential jet – one of the most expensive on the market that he rarely uses – and a fleet of very expensive vehicles. He converted state house into a palace. The state house budget is revised upwards regularly at the expense of other items especially in social sectors like education and healthcare.  Louis kept the nobility he feared at the Versailles Palace at public expense just as Museveni has appointed many ministers and presidential advisers that he fears at vast public expense.Louis's excessive spending over revenue laid the foundation for the eventual execution of Louis XVI. Museveni's excessive spending is laying a foundation for eventual trouble for his successor.Museveni is also a Machiavelli. The latter believed that the end justifies the means. If you want political stability, Machiavelli reasoned, use any means including violation of human rights and freedoms. Museveni’s maintenance of political stability has included establishing and using torture houses, militarizing the police and passing anti-terrorism law, anti-sectarian law and now the Public Order Administration law that has severely restricted public meetings.

These restrictions of political and civil rights are forcing Ugandans to begin to think about shifting from non-violent dissent to armed struggle. We are letting the world know that Ugandans are tired, frustrated, impoverished and abused and can’t take it anymore.

A government regardless of how it came to power has an obligation to protect and promote the interests of the people. Regional and international institutions should not focus on protecting governments at the expense of the people. This trend needs to be refocused and balanced. When a government does not perform it should be removed by any means necessary starting with peaceful ones.

The characteristics of Louis XIV and Machiavelli in Museveni have caused untold suffering in Uganda including dispossession of properties especially land the only source of livelihood for many households that Ugandans can’t tolerate anymore.The people of Uganda demand international action such as reducing foreign aid to deny Museveni resources for patronage that has kept him in power to ensure that liberty and justice are restored in Uganda without further delay.

Eric Kashambuzi is Secretary General,United Democratic Ugandans (UDU)

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