Uganda's Military Dictator Museveni Seeks Early Purge With Rush to Scrap Age-Ceiling

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Museveni--no ballots? Then bullets

[Africa: Commentary]

Yoweri Museveni, Uganda’s military dictator of 31 years last month deployed security forces who laid siege to Parliament as it was scheduled to handle the constitutional amendment scrapping the presidential age limit.

Article 102 (b) of the constitution provides for a maximum age limit of 75 for presidential candidates. Museveni, who now claims to be aged 73 won't qualify to contest in the next elections in 2021 unless the constitution is amended. In July 2005, he amended the same constitution to remove the two-term presidential limit. The following month he was nominated to contest in the February 2006 general elections.

Gen. Museveni is renowned for enjoying keeping people guessing before he makes last-hour announcements  on controversial issues. Therefore, the big question now is why has the dictator chosen to come out so early when we still have over three years to the general elections in 2021?

Unfortunately, Museveni's 31-years dictatorship has thrived on the incapacity of the majority Ugandans to understand him and his ways. He has systematically been destroying whoever understands him either by isolating them as enemies or compromising their independent-mindedness and credibility. It takes a lot of courage and sacrifice to resist and survive Museveni’s blackmail, manipulation, bribery, intimidation and actual threats.

Very few have consistently stood out to courageously oppose Gen. Museveni and in most cases, they have been misunderstood by Ugandans. The Lord's Resistance Army's (LRA) Joseph Kony is one such example; unfortunately his rebellion lost direction and became mired in committing atrocities as support waned. Museveni very well knows that Ugandans are fed up with his reign as demonstrated more clearly during the last general elections when he publicly declared that he was to completely destroy political opposition. He is perturbed by the growing opposition capacity to rally a majority of Ugandans by unmasking the mastery of deceit in him. He fears that unless he acts faster, the opposition may rally the masses for an "Arab Spring" kind of revolt and drive him out.

Museveni is therefore under pressure to act fast and decisively. Museveni's early push for the age limit to be removed is designed to provoke resentment from the opposition, the general population and from within his own ranks. In his estimation, amidst the widespread resentment, he can carry out a grand purge that will guarantee him a fresh start. The wild allegation by the regime that some people had planned to burn down the parliamentary building alludes to this sinister scheme.

The new claims by the regime that new rebel groups have been formed is not a coincidence. Many Ugandans will be picked up and charged with treason and incarcerated.

Perhaps Museveni does not believe burning of the parliamentary building, the street protests, strikes, or international embargos pose a threat to his hold on power.

Perhaps he does not think the civil society initiated dialogue, or FDC party president retired Gen. Mugisha Muntu's so- called "building of organizational capacity" can end his dictatorship.

He may believe that he can use the pretext of fighting armed opposition to carry out the brutal purge he is longing for. He may be planning to emulate Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan who crushed his opponents, real, perceived or fictitious.

The pro-change leaders and Ugandans in general have a noble cause-- to move the struggle forward. 

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