Chris Blattman

Uganda goes to the polls in 5 days

There’s little doubt that Museveni will win. But with every election that passes, I get a little more worried about the temperature of the country.

Polls are showing the main opposition candidate, Besigye, far, far behind Museveni. One reason is that Uganda has been doing well under Museveni (at least if you live in the southern half). Another, of course, is the incessant interference with the opposition’s campaign.

But Richard Vokes, a SOAS anthropologist, has an excellent blog piece on Besigye’s strategic missteps. There are too many points to quote easily. It should be read.

Andrew Mwenda, as usual, has a nice piece on why Besigye is probably the wrong candidate for a Uganda:

Uganda’s political terrain is changing to new ways that are rendering Kizza Besigye, just like Museveni, a relic of the past. The era of armed struggle is giving way to the era of street protest. Born of the former, Besigye seems ill-equipped to lead the new struggle. Both he and Museveni believe that the military gives an incumbent decisive advantage. But as Tunisia (and Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Philippines, Peru, Indonesia, South Korea, Chile etc before it) has shown, no army can defeat a people’s revolution when its time has come.

Therefore, if Besigye intends to adapt and lead successful street protests, he has to recognise that Museveni can only fall because he has transformed Uganda, not because he has kept it backward.

Also see Mwenda’s podcasts on the same site.

3 Responses

  1. I wonder about you saying that Uganda has been doing well under Museveni. It didn’t mean much for Kibaki in Kenya, or even for Ben Ali further North.

    It is very odd that the Ugandan people show so much more tolerance for such an in your face militaristic state than would be expected, especially in the south that is insulated from the wars further north and west, and where its corruption and violation of basic rights are most evident.

  2. “No army can defeat a people’s revolution?” I wonder if Mwenda has watched Iran circa 2009 or Algeria today…

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