Monday, April 10, 2006

Ugandan election not free and fair but still valid

"Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable."

I wonder if Uganda's strongman Yoweri Museveni is aware of the above quote by the late US president John F. Kennedy. Museveni, in total control of the country for two decades, has done his utmost to make peaceful change impossible.

Late last week, the Ugandan Supreme Court ruled on opposition challenges to the recent presidential election charade.

Was the election free and fair? The seven-member Supreme Court ruled UNANIMOUSLY that it was not.

Did the electoral commission comply with the law? Another unanimous NO verdict.

Should elections be annulled? Bizarrely, a majority of 4-3 voted NO.

So according to the high court, the elections were not free and fair. The electoral commission did not respect the law. But the elections should be maintained anyway.

Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has been accused of complicity with the armed opposition. But if the highest legal body in the land can rule that electoral law can be so grossly flouted without repercussion, how does anyone expect the opposition parties to buy into the concept of a peaceful change of government?!

Museveni should remember better than anyone else how thoroughly a civil war destroys a nation. Uganda was in ruins when he took over the country in 1986. He's done some good work stabilizing the country and improving the economy (except for the north of Uganda). This is hardly the time to destroy his legacy. Though I fear the unravelling may already be starting.


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