Interim Govt Can Address Uganda’s Problems [opinion]

Recent political developments suggest Uganda may be headed down a slippery path of political uncertainty.

The infighting in the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) organisation is reaching fever pitch in spite of apparent efforts by the two principals, President Museveni and erstwhile ally, former Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, to patch things up.

Mbabazi said he was going on leave effective Monday October 20. But the victory dance in the camp opposed to his stay in the party leadership, coming closely after he was relieved of the responsibilities of prime minister, suggest he may have been hung to dry.

The elections calendar is drawing closer. The NRM, in a bid, at least officially, to deal with “internal contradictions” and create “internal cohesion”, has decided to bring forward its delegates’ conference to December 2014.

The Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is planning its own conference in January 2015 (unless the developments in the NRM force them into a change of plans). But for all intents and purposes, the race for 2016 is clearly underway.

The campaign for free and fair elections is raising significant concerns from the populace, both impacting plans for amendments to the 1995 Constitution and electoral laws. Despite the ticking of the clock, Parliament is still dragging its feet. What do these contradicting positions mean for the country and what do citizens need to do to remedy an unguided plunge into an electoral year?

One suggestion that has been largely ignored is a call for a transitional government that would see President Museveni retire and set the country on a new footing. Museveni has indicated he desires to hand over power. His fear, however, has been in whose hands he places the reins as he goes to look after his cows and play with his grandchildren.

With Mbabazi now firmly on the sidelines, the search for a new pair of safe hands must be playing in Museveni’s mind. He has indicated that his choice would be for the younger generation.

Recent opinion polling by Daily Monitor and New Vision newspapers pointed to one person, Rebecca Kadaga, as the favourite figure if President Museveni were not on the ballot paper come 2016. But Kadaga’s earlier enthusiasm has seemed to wane in the wake of the treatment erstwhile rival Mbabazi is receiving.

But why should we focus on President Museveni as the saviour when he should have handed over yesterday, if he meant well for this country?

If the government fails to deliver on electoral reforms on time, then shouldn’t the consideration of an interim arrangement be more desirable? Those in charge can hand over the instruments of power to Ugandans and let them decide.

Looking at the trends, we need to have an interim government that has no sides, which is led by someone from either mainstream civil society or say the church, untainted by the cancer of corruption or the ongoing political mire.

A few names come across, say Dr Livingstone Ssewanyana, the current head of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative. Nearly 24 years ago, Ssewanyana stood as a sole voice in the wilderness to call for respect for human rights, navigating carefully between sharp political edges.

Today, human rights observance, partly through that effort, is moving to the more mundane, because the fundamentals have been largely addressed.

There are many other Ugandans willing to sacrifice for the country not to be driven to a precipice. They do not yearn for power but share the same fears of a reversal to uncertainty and hopes that this country can, after 52 years of independence, begin to focus permanently on improving the livelihood of her people. These are willing to lead the world not in war, death and disease but, innovation, finance and well-being.

The author is a project associate at the Citizens Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU).

Source : The Observer

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