When Collective Presidency Is Appropriate: A Case For Uganda

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Uganda's dictator Gen. Museveni -- in power for 30 years; longer than all the Soviet dictators

From time immemorial there are moments of crisis politically, economically or socially that make governing a country by one leader unwise.

In these circumstances collective leadership or caretaker government replaces one leader to create space for a new leader to emerge.

In 59 B.C. Rome faced such a difficult situation when three strong personalities, ompeted for the leadership: General Caesar, General Pompey and Crassus the richest man.

To avert a catastrophe, these three men governed Rome together as the First Triumvirate.

When Josef Stalin died in 1953 he was succeeded by a three-man collective leadership until Nikita Khrushchev emerged as the leader; and when Khrushchev was ousted from the leadership, he was replaced by a three-man collective leadership until Leonid Brezhnev emerged as the leader.

When Yugoslavia’s head of state Josip Broz Tito died in 1980, he was smoothly succeeded by a collective State Presidency. The presidency rotated annually amongst the delegates.

In Uganda, political chaos followed the defeat of dictator Gen. Idi Amin in 1979 and made it difficult for one strong leader to emerge after Godfrey Binaisa was ousted from the presidency, a three man presidential commission of Wacha Olwol, Justice Saul Musoke and Justice Polycarp Nyamuconco was appointed albeit without much power.

In some situations for example as in Kenya and in Zimbabwe it became necessary to form coalition governments of ruling and opposition parties to make time for political temperatures to cool off after contentious elections marred by violence.

It is fair to say that Uganda at the moment is at a critical juncture politically, economically and socially.

After 30 years in absolute power the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) is facing tremendous difficulties arising from the country's winner-take-all approach particularly in the political, economic and social spheres.

Opposition parties are also facing tremendous difficulties to form a coalition to contest the elections scheduled for early 2016. In these uncertain circumstances anything could happen, with disastrous outcomes for the country and citizenry.

Against this bleak background some Ugandans – myself included since 2011 – have called for an all-inclusive transitional government led by a presidential team with the four regions represented and governed by a transitional charter.

Apart from running the daily affairs of state, the transitional government would conduct a comprehensive population census to collect detailed and disaggregated data for political and economic planning purposes. It would also convene a national conference so that Ugandans can freely debate and decide without fear, coercion, bribery and manipulation how they want to be governed; paving the way for free and fair multi-party elections.

The 2016 sham will be presided over by Gen. Yoweri Museveni's hand-picked Election Commission. A meal served comprises the ingredients used to prepare it; so the outcome of this dish is predictable.

By way of emphasis, let me repeat that a continuation of one-person presidency in Uganda under the present circumstances has outlived its usefulness.

I therefore urge fellow Ugandans and our partners to reflect seriously on the proposed transitional government led by a presidential council of at least four competent and patriotic individuals with impeccable character.The council can do no worse than a single individual who will expend all the time and energy trying to thwart those who would undermine one president.

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