Why Polarized And Divided Uganda Needs National Reconciliation

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If the great Mandela could work with the enforcer of apartheid racist regime who is dictator Museveni to deny Ugandans peaceful path?

In politics there are no permanent enemies.

Since I formally joined Uganda politics in 2011 after a long period of studying, reflecting and drawing lessons from history, politics and international relations, I concluded that the only way to achieve sustainable peace, security, stability, development and dignity in Uganda is to pool our abundant resources together through political reconciliation.

The politics of winner- take-all through fraudulent elections or the barrel of the gun has created potentially very dangerous political, economic, religious, ethnic and regional rifts in Uganda similar to what obtained in Yugoslavia before it fell apart. We must avoid this in Uganda.

To stop this trajectory and reverse course I have consistently through broadcasting and writing called for the politics of reconciliation in the first instance. 

Those Ugandans that are benefiting from the National Resistance Movement (NRM) regime under Gen. Yoweri Museveni who's ruled for 30 years want to maintain existing political arrangements of winner-take –all. They would  oppose reconciliation and a ransitional government arrangement to cool the political temperature and pave the way for laying a solid foundation for sustainable peace, security, development and rule of law.

On the other hand many of those that have been excluded from the benefits of winner-take-all believe that the best and quickest solution is a military confrontation.

Others have come up with the politics of defiance. Yet others like me are calling for reconciliation – and the numbers are growing – because there are no permanent enemies in Uganda or elsewhere in time and space.

History provides the evidence to support my position.

In 59 B.C., three Greek political enemies – Julius Caesar, Marcus Licinius Crassus and Pompey the Great – agreed to work together and ruled Rome together as the First Triumvirate.

The Cold War from the end of World War II to 1990 turned the United States and the Soviet Union into enemies. However the two superpowers later realized that the arms race was turning the world into a dangerous place. They negotiated and signed arms reduction treaties. Mikhail Gorbachev’s policies of Perestroika and Glasnost created a new mood in the Soviet Union that enabled the leadership to look upon the U.S. not as an enemy but as a partner in tackling international problems.

During and immediately after WWII the U.S. treated Japan as an enemy. However, the threat to U.S. interests of communist China and the Soviet Union forced the United States to end the enmity and turned Japan into a partner as a counterweight to communism.

The United States considered communist China since 1949 as an enemy and blocked it from becoming a member of the United Nations. However, the expansion of Soviet military power and the changes launched in foreign and economic affairs by China's Deng Xiaoping transformed the two countries' relations from enemy to a partner. Diplomatic relations were established and communist China was admitted to the United Nations as a permanent member of the powerful Security Council.

The U.S. and Vietnam fought a bitter war that turned the two countries into enemies and resulting in about 60,000 deaths of American troops and up to 200,000 Vietnamese fighters and about 1.8 million civilians. With time after the war, relations improved and the two countries reconciled and became partners.

In 1965 Ian Smith unilaterally declared Southern Rhodesia independent (UDI). Smith then faced an intensified costly guerrilla war that none would win. Eventually Smith and the guerrillas led by Mugabe agreed to form a government of national unity before complete majority rule followed.

The apartheid regime and the ANC – the two enemies that had fought a bitter war – both realized that the war was unwinnable. They concluded that a government of national unity was the answer. Mandela served as president and F.W. de Klerk, the champion of the brutal apartheid regime, as vice president.
These illustrations prove that in politics there are no permanent enemies, opponents or adversaries. It is interests that are permanent.

In Uganda the NRM and the opposition have common interests: to ensure that our families, our children in present and future generations live in peace, security and dignity.

The NRM supporters are increasingly getting worried that if their flag-bearer Gen. Museveni is defeated their interests will suffer.

Those in the opposition are increasingly worried that if they stay out of power much longer their interests may be irreparably damaged.

Thus, since the interests of both parties are the same, arrangements to protect them through a transitional government or government of national unity as the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party whose flag-bearer Dr. Kizza Besigye has suggested should be supported by all stakeholders including Uganda's foreign development partners.

If NRM maintains the winner-take-all stance going into the February 18 presidential election those in the opposition may be forced to shift from peaceful defiance to an armed one.

Museveni the leader of NRM must not take this warning as an empty threat.


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