U.S., Gen. Museveni's Patron, Must Lean On Him As Opposition Vows 'Any Means Necessary' For Change

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U.S. backing for Museveni since Ronald Reagan was in office

[Africa: Uganda Election Analysis]

Once again, Ugandans are being summoned to prepare for general elections next year between February 2016 and March 2016 to elect a president, members of parliament and district chairpersons.

In these elections the ruling National Resistance Movement-Organization (NRM-O) party is already violating its own constitution by fronting incumbent President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni as its sole presidential candidate.

This would be the fifth such elections organized by the Museveni regime in five yearly intervals since he came to power in 1986. These elections came after first spending 10 years in power without holding elections. During this period political parties were banned from practicing politics.

In all these elections, there had been wholesale fraud and rigging, orchestrated terror and intimidation and the massive diversion of tax-payers' money and international development assistance to fund NRM-O campaigns and vote-buying.

The opposition party leaders have vowed to prevent Museveni from rigging the 2016 vote.

The Election Commission is composed of commissioners and a chair, Badru Kiggundu, hand-picked by Museveni.

After this series of sham elections, it is now absolutely clear that the Museveni/Kiggundu electoral management system that is designed and entirely controlled and orchestrated by the Museveni regime, will inevitably produce more of the same results.

In the history of Ugandan elections, no president or political party has peacefully transferred power to another and Museveni will not be an exception this time round. That is why U.S. President Obama's Administration must intervene this time. Museveni is considered an ally of the USA for its security interests in Africa and is offered a blank check on domestic politics. The U.S. has supported Museveni with financial and military-training backing since Ronald Reagan was president.

Members of the opposition political parties have vowed to use all means to stop Museveni from rigging this time round. They have not ruled out taking up arms to fight the regime or the holding of mass protests across the country in efforts to bring down Museveni.

"We shall use all means available and we are not ruling out force. The constitution allows it," says Dr. Kizza Besigye, one of the opposition leaders, as quoted recently.

"We need a social movement to defeat Museveni, where everybody comes together for a purpose irrespective of party affiliation," says another opposition leader Dr. Olara-Otunnu.

Meanwhile, President Museveni is not taking these challenges lying down. The police have already demanded for over $67 million to guard the polls, a demand described as "outrageous", by some members of parliament. We know that the police have been stockpiling tear-gas in every police station across the country in anticipation of troubles during the polls.

The Public Order Management law gives excessive powers to the police to the extent that one needs police permission to hold a meeting or fund-raising for whatever reason since police have to approve gatherings of more than three people.

There are critical areas which need to be considered if Uganda is to have free, credible and fair elections. While the opposition wants an Independent Electoral Commission, Museveni is not keen to dismantle the current commission. The commission has always been appointed by President Museveni from among the cadres of his party, the NRM-O.

"The selection of commissioners and the Electoral Commission staff must follow a process of open application, public hearings and scrutiny conducted by the Judicial Service Commission," says part of the recommendations of Uganda citizens compact on free and fair elections.

Another recommendation, which might rub Museveni in the wrong foot if that the military should have no involvement whatsoever in the electoral process and that they should remain focused on its constitutional duty of securing our borders and defending our sovereignty. The army has always been called upon to work with police during public demonstrations.

The re-introduction of Presidential term limits into the constitution and the scrapping off, the presidential age limit from current 75 years are other issues likely to be contentious.

These proposals will definitely be defeated in the floor of parliament since his party enjoys absolute majority whereby they vote as a block.

Currently, there is a court case pending in which the petitioner wants court to stop Museveni from contesting in next year's election on grounds that he would not be legible to complete his 5-year term before he is knocked out because of his age. He is now 71 years old. The current constitution bars presidents of 75 years and above from being candidates in elections.

It is therefore imperative for the US, which has been supported the Museveni regime, to intervene. This would save Ugandans from the opposition's threats to take up arms or mobilize the people into a social movement to get rid of Museveni.

I foresee chaos after the 2016 elections since opinion poll indicates that Museveni will have a "landslide win" over the combined opposition forces. 

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