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Uganda: After Mugabe, All Eyes Are On Museveni – How Long Can He Cling to Power?


Left: Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Proper: Former Zimbabwean chief Robert Mugabe.


On 21 November, Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe resigned as president under intense force from the militia, his own birthday party, and mass protests. The news used to be celebrated on the streets of Harare and in addition With The Aid Of pro-democracy activists throughout the continent.

However in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni – who has been in Energy for nearly 30 years – clings on, plotting to change the structure in order that he can stand within the 2021 elections. So how Long can he stay in Energy?

When multi-birthday celebration electoral politics had been restored in Uganda in 2005, what Museveni was handed in return used to be the removal of presidential time period-limits. This allowed the president, in Power given that 1986, to repeatedly stand for re-election.

Alternatively, the structure nonetheless placed a limit: presidential candidates could not be over Seventy Five years of age. Time flies, and now that restrict stands in Museveni’s means: he’ll be Seventy Six by the time of the next polls in 2021.

Following a sample that is emerging across authoritarian states, the president has not proposed the constitutional change himself. Instead, a private member’s invoice has been dropped at parliament By Way Of a sitting member of his Nationwide Resistance Motion (NRM). However – as with his choice because the NRM’s sole candidate for the 2016 elections – there seems certainly that Museveni is at the back of the plan.

Despite this tried sleight of hand, the president just isn’t having the whole lot his own method. There Were chaotic scenes in parliament when the bill was once offered; widespread protests have been violently suppressed, But preserve routine. A Number Of bishops have additionally denounced the move.

Most Importantly, many within the NRM have adverse the exchange, even in parts of the u . s . a . that have typically been loyal to Museveni.

Museveni is a wily flesh presser, with a neatly-used toolbox for sustaining Energy, and has spoke back By Using providing 29 million Uganda shillings (somewhat over US$7,000) to Every sitting member of parliament to facilitate a “session” with their ingredients. Yet some who bought the handout have nonetheless put on the pink headscarf that has grow to be the mark of resistance.

Museveni’s hypocrisy

Much of the crucial comment on these trends, each within Uganda and internationally, has considering Museveni’s hypocrisy. As a younger radical within the 1980s, he publicly scorned African rulers who clung to Power. Now, after 30 years in administrative center, he’s evidently clinging pretty hard himself.

The resignation of Mugabe further shines a spotlight on Museveni’s intransigence. Yet in alternative routes, Museveni has been very constant. His first public political role was as an organiser of nominations in Milton Obote’s one-party state, nearly 50 years ago, and he has all the time understood that elections can do helpful political work for authoritarians.

Like many of his era, he saw political events as divisive. So when he seized Energy in 1986, Museveni banned political birthday celebration activity and presented elections with out events. On This device, all candidates stood on ‘person merit’, and voters selected these they thought most in a position to carry construction.

Although multi-celebration politics has lower back, the legacy of that gadget continues as of late in weak birthday party organisations and the focal point on the person high quality of candidates. For Museveni, elections function numerous completely different roles. They reveal the ability of the state – incessantly in an extraordinarily violent way, as police ruin-up opposition rallies.

However in addition they provide a helpful vent for tensions, and for verbal exchange. Campaigning forces politicians – from the president down – to engage with the general public. That engagement tends to take the type of patronage: voters are given fast gifts – of cash or goods. Or they are promised explicit rewards – roads, electrical energy, scholarships. Every So Often, they get at least one of the most issues they are promised.

That has inspired accountability of a kind – But it’s tricky and in the neighborhood-focussed, revolving round what candidates ship to their components. Because Of This, voters prove to solid their ballots in important numbers, and Museveni faces neither revolt nor insurgency.

It Is A standard phenomenon in recent Africa, where the common reintroduction of multi-celebration elections has not all the time made changes of presidency more widespread.

But this strategy of political management leaves Museveni with an issue. His dislike of parties, and his model of patronage politics, have mixed to stop the emergence of any plausible successor throughout the NRM. Actually, Museveni has gone out of his solution to undermine MPs from his personal birthday celebration. More Than as soon as he has became on them, urging voters in charge MPs, slightly than the government itself, for the more than one woes of on a regular basis existence.

The weak point of the NRM as an enterprise matters because Museveni does now not belief someone else enough to step aside of his own volition. The ruling birthday party also does now not have the structures that would enable the emergence of a a success challenger. Twice within the ultimate 16 years, competitors have sought to problem Museveni from throughout the NRM. Kizza Besigye and Amama Mbabazi each found that place in the NRM way little. That Features the it appears highly effective place of secretary-common which Mbabazi held for many years. Every was successfully compelled out of the NRM, after which defeated Through Museveni in mistaken elections.

So Uganda is caught with a president who’s good at playing the electoral recreation and a ruling party which has no way of producing a successor. Museveni could well manage to push the alternate through. The NRM has an overwhelming parliamentary majority and finally most MPs shall be too reliant on the president’s patronage to defy him.

However The president – and those round him – will for sure be aware of that the constitutional trade can simplest defer the problem, and make it more intractable. Indeed, the Ugandan press has no longer lost the opportunity to editorialise on occasions in Zimbabwe in ways that indirectly query Museveni’s future. As Robert Mugabe discovered to his cost, elections without choice have their uses: But they cannot make sure steady succession.

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