Uganda’s Post-Election Situation

By Timothy Kalyegira

The low-level acts of violence and encounters between the army, police and civilians in some parts of Uganda, mainly Kasese, continue to cause unease among the public.

The direction that the situation is taking seems to point to the next five years as being a return to the 1990s, when several rebel groups at any one time were engaged in sabotage or military activity against the State.

Either the recent presidential election result has so angered some people that they now feel justified in trying to use other means, or they had been angry for a while but are now using the present political climate as their excuse.

The army is going to revert to that combat readiness it has in the early 1990s and the 2016-2021 period will feel a lot like 1981-1985.

The longer the FDC's former presidential candidate remains under virtual house arrest, the more awkward the ruling NRM's position looks. It makes many neutral observers start to feel the government has something to hide, even if it might not.

The government's argument is that Besigye had, in his own words, stated that he would reject the election results if he felt they were fraudulent and added that he and the FDC would take on a campaign of "defiance".

Let's say this is so. For a government that has prided itself in failing in most other areas but the one area it has always succeeded in - that of security, maintaining a peaceful country, defeating various armed groups since 1986 - to say Besigye is under preventive detention because he could paralyse Kampala or cause some other kind of unrest, is to inadvertently admit something surprising.

It is to admit that the government no longer has the security situation totally under control, or that Besigye has a level of support that is large enough to bring the city to a standstill.

We still have not seen major countrywide celebrations of the NRM's victory of February 18. The longer we go without those spontaneous celebrations, the more staged the official celebrations will be when they finally take place.

As with the Besigye situation, NRM party celebrations coming long after the election will make the celebrations seem artificial.

The time has come for some "moderates" within the NRM to start meeting in private to find a way to bring the present situation to a place of resolution.

There are many Ugandans who genuinely support the NRM, believe its campaign launched in 1981 was for a good and historical reason and it hurts them to see their party and government begin to look like the UPC government the NRA claimed rigged the 1980 elections.

Many invested time and money in the NRM campaigns and believe it genuinely won the elections, but now find it hard to defend their own party when it comes out looking this bad just a month after the election.

Source: All Africa

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