As Uganda Burns Museveni Plans Big Party

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[Black Star News Editorial]

In the East African country of Uganda, Gen. Yoweri K. Museveni, a dictator of 26 years who has been backed and financed by the U.S. and Britain was caught off guard.

Gen. Museveni is slipping rapidly.

He has a huge army, equipped and trained by the U.S. He spends the significant portion of the national budget not on education or healthcare but on the military. Additional to the national army --which only follows his orders-- he has a private army, more than 10,000 strong called the "Presidential Guard Brigade," commanded by his son Muhozi Kainerugaba.

When the state-financed PGB isn't trying to knock off an opposition presidential candidate --as was attempted with former U.N. Under Secretary General Olara Otunnu-- it's involved in suppressing popular dissent.

Gen. Museveni has supplied 8,000 troops to Somalia to shore up a weak U.S.-supported government. The U.S. fears that lawless Somalia may become a haven for al-Qaeda. Museveni blackmails the U.S. by threatening to withdraw Ugandan troops. The U.S., consequently, has tolerated massive gross human rights violations by Museveni --including genocide in the DR Congo and in Uganda's Acholi region. The U.S. didn't say much when Gen. Museveni stole Uganda's February 18 presidential election.

This ungentlemanly gentlemen's agreement between the U.S. and Museveni is now falling apart.

When the opposition parties denounced the outcome of the rigged elections --which even the notoriously pliant Commonwealth Observers' Group pronounced as compromised-- Gen. Museveni deployed throusands of menacing armed troops throughout the country. He was ready for any armed resistance.

The opposition outsmarted him. Instead of calling upon Ugandans to take up arms, a call was instead made for peaceful civil outrage.

Top opposition leaders showed their outrage at escalating food and gas --called "petrol" in Uganda-- prices by walking to work. The strategy caught like wildfire. Most governments in the world would welcome such an environmentally positive approach, whose bonus is also exercise for fitness.

In Uganda, Gen. Museveni, who increasingly resembles Napoleon in "Animal Farm," banned walking to work. Earlier, before the February 18 vote, he had banned text messages that included words like "Tunisia," "Egypt," and "Mubarak."

When people defied him and walked to work, his police fired live rounds into unarmed demonstrators, killing at least 10 people around the country. Top opposition party leader Dr. Kizza Besigye, was wounded on the hand and arrested. Nobert Mao, another opposition leader was also locked up.

Uncowed, more people started walking to work -- their courage had been rekindled by the bravery of oppositon leaders Besigye, Mao and Otunnu. Last week, during one such march, Museveni's thugs smashed the windows of Dr. Besigye's vehicle, where he had taken refuge. He was sprayed with undetermined chemical agents by plainclothes agents.

Dr. Besigye, who remains partially blinded following the attack, was thrown like a cow into a van and whisked away. Oustide pressure and a spontaneous outrising in Kampala, the capital forced Gen. Museveni to allow Dr. Besigye to seek medical care in Kenya.

The assault against unarmed civilians and the manner of Dr. Besigye's arrest reminds Ugandans of behavior that characterized Gen. Idi Amin's regime. When a reporter confronted Gen. Museveni with this analogy he berated the scribe and said Amin had killed 800,000--while most Ugandans detest Amin and his legacy, they knew this figure was an exaggeration. Still, it was a tacit admission by Gen. Museveni that his own victims, while many, amounts to less than 800,000. Ugandans, Rwandans and Congolese might take issue with Museveni's low-count of his own victims.

Some of his aides see the writing on the wall. His Army commander, aware that the world is watching, including the ICC, has distanced himself from the violent suppression of demonstrators and blames the police forces.

Yet Museveni remains in his own universe, which ironically, was also pointed out by the U.S. ambassador to Uganda in a cable leaked via WikiLeaks. On May 12, Gen. Museveni plans a multi-million dollar inauguration for himself even as his sand castle crumbles around him. He will again swear to protect Uganda's constitution which he has shredded by scrapping presidential term limits and unleashing the army against his own people.

World leaders can show their outrage to Gen. Museveni's tyrrany and violent repression by leaving their seats empty at Museveni's big party.

Ugandans deserve global solidarity as they resist U.S.-backed dictatorship.

"Speaking Truth To Empower."

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