Clinton: It's Nearing 3AM In Uganda

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Museveni's been in office for nearly a quarter century, sponsored by successive U.S. and U.K. Administrations, from Ronald Reagan's to Margaret Thatcher's. But domestic opposition is heating to boiling point.

Clinton: It's 3AM In Uganda

[Black Star News Editorial]

Hillary Clinton as presidential candidate running against Barack Obama aired an infamous Television commercial. When a crisis presents itself, who do you want to pick up that call at 3AM?

There's a crisis edging towards culmination in another part of the world, and, ironically, Clinton is best placed to put in a telephone call. She should call Uganda's general Yoweri K. Museveni, a U.S. "ally" and have him reconsider his intention to run for president again next year. The general seems to care more about the views of the U.S. Administration rather than those of Ugandans. 

It's not surprising. He's been in office for nearly a quarter century, sponsored with arms and budgetary support by successive U.S. and U.K. Administrations, dating from Ronald Reagan's and Margaret Thatcher's.

But domestic opposition is heating to a boil and the open check from the West reconsidered.

Initially, general Museveni's pitch was that he was many times better than Idi Amin and Milton Obote; he can't muster that argument today judging by the death toll of his militarism--genocide in Uganda's Acholi; genocide in Rwanda; and, genocide in D.R. Congo.

All the ethnic groups that previously Museveni pitted against each other now see through his Machiavellian ploys and are more united than ever against tyranny--he had pitted Ugandans in the northern part of the country against those in the South, preaching ethno-racism.

The U.S. and U.K. --disregarding the death toll from Museveni's militarism on Ugandans, Rwandans, and Congolese-- backed him simply because in recent years he's been the West's policeman in Africa, especially since the demise of Mobuttu Sese Seko.

When the U.S. and U.K. wanted to displace French influence in Rwanda, these countries sponsored an invasion from Uganda in 1990--four years later and one million deaths later there was regime change. When the West needed armies to prop the Somali government, it was once again Museveni who rented out 5,000 Uganda troops.

The ground has shifted.

Recently the U.S. Congress, in a dramatic turnaround from business as usual with its "ally" or better, its enforcer in Africa, issued a directive calling on Secretary Clinton to monitor the preparation of the Uganda election, the voting itself, and the period thereafter.

What's more, Clinton is charged with issuing a status report 90 days from the date the directive took effect --December 2009, which means the first report is due this month-- 120 days thereafter; and 30 days after next year's vote.

The directive calls for, among other things, freedom of the press; security of all candidates; an independent election commission; credible voter registry and roll; and immediate posting of results at polling stations.

Since the directive was issued, there are a number of incidents that qualify for inclusion in Clinton's first report:

A top candidate, now president of Uganda People's Congress party, Dr. Olara Otunnu, charged that he was the victim of an assassination attempt when in December vehicles belonging to general Museveni's Presidential Guard Brigade forced his car off a major highway and he narrowly averted a crash; a major private radio station, CBS radio, in which Kabaka Ronald Mutebi II, the Buganda hereditary king, is a shareholder, remains off the air; instead of an independent commission, general Museveni's handpicked election commission is in place; and, no one knows what's happening with the voter registry.

Tension has increased in Buganda --home to the Baganda, the country's most populous ethnic group-- as CBS radio remains shut.

Yesterday, the Royal Tomb at Kasubi, the resting place of Kabaka Mutebi's ancestors --including his father-- was burned down mysteriously. No clear evidence pointing in any direction has emerged. Still, it was small comfort to the general when civilians reportedly blocked Museveni's motorcade when he visited the tombs, to pay his respect, an unheard of act of rebelliousness in Uganda. His security personnel reportedly opened fire resulting in deaths.

Sometimes rulers ignore the obvious writing on the wall.

Yet a few weeks ago Clinton, whose government had previously backed Museveni unconditionally, phoned the general to voice displeasure about the impending bill before Uganda's parliament that would make homosexuality punishable by death. Museveni then cautioned his political party to "go slow" even though he had masterminded the domestic political hysteria leading to the bill. 

Maybe it's time for Clinton to make another call to this U.S. "ally."  Twenty-five years is more than enough.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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