Animal Farm: How Gen. Museveni Duped Uganda

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[Letter From Gulu]

This is the anatomy of a chameleone.
Thirty one years ago, in January 1986, Yoweri Museveni and his rebel army, National Resistance Army (NRA) trooped into Kampala overthrowing the short lived military junta government of Gen. Tito Okello Lutwa, who had himself toppled the government of Dr. Apollo Milton Obote.
Museveni and his new youthful military government promised a fundamental change to the people of Uganda who had barely recovered from Gen. Idi Amin’s eight-year reign of terror.
In many areas of the country, except the northern Uganda where a rebellion broke out almost immediately, Museveni’s new military regime was greeted with a lot of euphoria. Shortly thereafter, he and his regime issued Legal Notice No. 2 that expressly banned political parties from mobilizing and organizing to compete for power.
Museveni and his group argued that political parties were divisive and therefore, should be banished for a while, to allow the country to heal from deep seated ethno-regional, social, economic and political fissures.
Few weeks into his rule, as the popular narrative goes, at a military high command meeting in Mengo, a suburb of Kampala, President Museveni and his colleagues tabled for discussion the question of the period of time that their military government should take in reorganizing the country before handing over to an elected civilian government.
It is said that Museveni argued very strongly that they needed only two years to reorganize things and hand over power to a civilian authority clearly giving the impression he wanted to end military rule quickly.
His colleagues however, believing that Museveni was arguing genuinely from the bottom of his heart, persuaded him to accept a four year period.
Nuwe Amanya Mushega, a bush war colleague and NRM/A ideologue, argued strongly and persuaded the President that four years were a more realistic timeframe and could be sufficient to accomplish their objective of reorganizing the country and handing it over to whoever would be popularly elected by the people of Uganda. Mr. Nuwe Amanya Mushega’s side "won" the argument and they resolved to stay for four years, which was, in hindsight Museveni's intended outcome.
After the four years elapsed, the very Museveni, who only four years earlier had argued strongly against lasting in power for over two years, had changed his mind and requested the National Resistance Council (NRC) that he needed more time to complete the constitutional making process that his government had commenced. The NRC without hesitation granted the President another four years which led the country to the election of a Constituent Assembly (CA) in 1994 which met for one year to make a new constitution, promulgated in 1995.
With the 1995 constitution in place a General Election was to be held the following year in 1996.
In the meantime, Museveni had already stayed in power for nine years without subjecting himself to any form of election. His authority was almost unquestionable. He still enjoyed enormous good will from among a vast majority of Ugandans, including the intelligentsia and political elite.
Museveni once again requested his party and the military leadership to grant him a chance to lead the country under the new constitutional order so as to set a strong foundation for the implementation of the newly made supreme law of the land. Again, his desire was granted.
In 1996, his party, the NRM, disguised under what was supposed to be an all inclusive strand of democracy called the "Movement," fielded him as their candidate for the presidency of the country. At that time, the president arguably continued to enjoy goodwill and political support among the people of Uganda. He used state machinery and his incumbency maximally to win this election. He defeated Dr. Paul Kawanga Ssemogerere, a renowned democrat and joint opposition standard bearer and went on to lead the country for five more years.
Then in 2001, the president once again asked his party and the military leadership to give him one last chance to complete the job he had started, namely, professionalization of the army and fostering national unity, among other things. Unsuspecting, Museveni’s party and the military leadership handed him another five years.
At that time however, some of Museveni’s comrades had started raising questions about the President’s continued interest in leading the country. They therefore thought the President should commit himself in black and white that he was ruling for only one more term and would thereafter bequeath the leadership of the Movement and the country to a new leader popularly elected.
The Constitution that had been promulgated in 1995 had barred a president from seeking more than two five year terms. President Museveni knew this very well and was prepared to scrap it so as to continue leading the country. In 2003, Museveni then embarked on a scheme to remove the Presidential Term Limit from the Constitution so he could rule till death. The emperor was now fully naked.
Since then, Gen. Museveni has continued to rule and there are no signs suggestive of his departure. Uganda’s Constitution bars a person who is above the age of 75 from contesting for the presidency. The President and his Party are already in advanced stages of scrapping this provision from the Constitution.
The words he used to describe Africa's tyrants in 1986 now best characterize his own regime.
But how did Gen. Museveni dupe his comrades and the people of Uganda to this extent to become the full-fledged dictator?
A sneak peek at the profiles of Gen. Museveni’s comrades, reveals a whole lot of very intelligent individuals; some of the country's best minds. Mr. Nuwe Amanya Mushega, Mr. Eriya Kategaya (RIP), Mr. Amama Mbabazi, Dr. Kizza Besigye, Gen. Mugisha Muntu, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, and others.
In fairness, Dr. Besigye decisively broke from the dictator and has run against him in presidential elections rigged by Museveni in 2001, 2006, 2011, and 2016.
These individuals and many others not mentioned here were well educated and exposed. They were all in one way or another accomplished people. How on earth did they fail to see the tell signs for Gen. Museveni’s unquenchable thirst for power? Did they have too much trust in him? Or was Gen. Museveni smarter than all of them?
We may never find answers to these questions. But one thing is for sure, we will not allow another Museveni to emerge in our generation.
We won’t ignore tell signs of dictatorial tendencies in our generational leaders.

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