End Game For Gen. Museveni, Uganda Dictator?

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[Black Star News Editorial]

The East African country of Uganda has been in a state of political paralyses and rapid economic decline since Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni, the U.S.-backed dictator, stole the February Presidential elections.

Many Ugandans believe opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye was the actual winner.

Weeks later, as the economy rapidly slipped --Gen. Museveni had ordered the printing of billions of Uganda shillings to help buy votes, thereby fueling inflation-- Dr. Besigye started walking to work, and encouraged other Ugandans to do the same in order to save on fuel costs. It was an instant success as thousands of Ugandans heeded his call.

Gen. Museveni panicked and banned people from walking to work; a preposterous command, of course. When Dr. Besigye defied the ban --correctly, since even God can't prevent human beings from walking-- he was assaulted and arrested by Gen. Museveni's secret police. Dr. Besigye, who was partially temporarily blinded with chemical agents sprayed into his eyes, sought treatment in Kenya and later in the United States. During an earlier arrest, he had been shot in the hand by Museveni's security agents.

While in the U.S., shortly after being assaulted, Dr. Besigye told The Black Star News that he now sees that Ugandans had been emboldened against Gen. Museveni's tyranny.  "The element of fear has ended," he told The Black Star News. "People power will prevail."

Dr. Besigye said he himself had no illusions about his own personal safety.  Yet even if the general's agents were to cut him down, he was confident in the knowledge that the struggle would continue.  "Even if I'm gone, the protests will continue," Dr. Besigye told The Black Star. "The demonstrators would galvanize around another opposition leader."

He said ultimately, dictatorship would end in Uganda. That predicted transition seems to have picked up pace.

Yesterday, Uganda's Parliament, more famous for being cowed by Gen. Museveni, ordered an end to any new oil deals with foreign companies until a strict law governing the industry is in place. The Parliament heard accusations that top Museveni ministers --Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi; foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa, and; former energy minister Hilary Onek-- had all pocketed several millions of dollars in bribes from oil companies, including Tullow Oil.

The Parliament asked for the resignation of the officials.

The Parliamentary accusations echo similar charges made last year by the American ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, contained in a memo to the State Department, leaked by WikiLeaks. The Wall Street Journal carried the story at the time; it was ignored by The New York Times, which, like The State Department, has been soft on Museveni.

The allegations against Museveni's ministers yesterday was covered by The Wall Street Journal and prominently by the BBC. This is a strong indication that the U.K. government, which has been the general's strongest foreign apologist, is willing to part ways; the BBC is generally a mouthpiece for Britain. 

Gen. Museveni has been in power for more than a quarter century. Increasingly, the signs are that he won't any longer be able to stand in the path of a democratic transition.

The opposition in Uganda must come together and formulate a National Unity Government,  paving the way to genuine, transparent and open elections in Uganda, after the restoration of presidential term limits.

Dr. Besigye did speak about a national conference with The Black Star. He said the dialogue would bring to the table "Uganda's polity," including political parties, faith-based organizations, and civil society organizations.

"All issues that have bedeviled our country should be on the table," Dr. Besigye said, of the national dialogue. "And there should be a political will to get consensus of the people of Uganda on the way forward and implement whatever consensus is achieved. I think that is the only way that our country can step back from its going into another cycle of chaos and retardation."

When asked what advice he would offer Gen. Museveni if he had the opportunity, Dr. Besigye reflected, and responded: "Well I think that he should reflect deeply about his legacy," he said. "About the legacy of African states in world politics, and urgently enter or engage in a national dialogue."

The sooner that conference is launched the better for all Ugandans.

Meanwhile, the "walk to work" campaign is set to again relaunch this week.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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