Museveni’s Hold On Power Set to Continue [interview]

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni seems set on remaining in power and, in all likelihood, will be his party’s sole candidate in elections due in 2016. Not all Ugandans welcome this prospect.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for 28 years – although he himself once declared that no African head of state should be in office for longer than ten years. Museveni also appears to be the sole candidate of the ruling NRM party for elextions scheduled for 2016. However, three Ugandan activists have decided to contest this at the East African Court of Justice. They maintain that Museveni’s sole candidature contravenes the treaty of the East African Community, of which Uganda is a member. To find out more, DW spoke to Ugandan political analyst and blogger Angelo Izama.

DW: Mr Izama, how unusual is this legal challenge to President Museveni’s efforts to stay in power?

Angelo Izama: Well, it certainly reveals a lack of options here. Yoweri Museveni is completely dominating the Ugandan political system. For example, he has not appointed – against the aice of the Law Society – a chief justice. So, we have been running without a head of the judiciary for almost a year now. And so, if you are thinking of attempting a legal challenge within Uganda, there is really very little you can do. Museveni also dominates the parliament. His NRM (National Resistance Movement) is almost like a single party in the house, it has over 80 percent of members of parliament.

What exactly are the three activists trying to achieve? Presumably, that the NRM should field more than one candidate – or is there more to it than that?

I think they are using the court to make the argument for a pluralistic system in Uganda, that there has to be some kind of democracy within the ruling party. The main reason why Museveni’s sole candidature has been proposed by certain members of his party is to eliminate his main rival, former prime minister Amama Mbabazi. I think this court case is to make the public argument that it is not only illegal but it is counterintuitive to democracy if you have a sole candidate. What this amounts to is that, for the next elections, you have the re-election of one person who has been in power for a very long time.

How intense is the power struggle going on behind the scenes in the NRM?

Judging from the way the president and his men are going about this, it’s quite intense and it is at several levels. Of course there is a generational struggle here between Museveni’s generation, including of course his rivals from that generation, and a much younger, more emboldened successor generation. It’s really laying the fault lines for what Ugandans would like in the next 10 years. But I would say, as far as the next election is concerned, I think there is no doubt that the president is going to remain unrivalled, both within his party and outside of it, because there is really no significant political challenger currently within the Ugandan body politic. And it does not appear that there will be enough ground for a candidate to emerge who can unite the various factions within the NRM and outside in order to challenge Museveni successfully.

Angelo Izama is a Ugandan political analyst, writer and blogger and a former Knight Fellow at Stanford University

Interview: Mark Caldwell

Source : Deutsche Welle

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