Harrison Otieno: Museveni, the time has come for you to let other leaders serve

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at State House in Entebbe, Uganda in 2018.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni at State House in Entebbe, Uganda, in 2018.

Photo credit: Sumy Sadurni | AFP

There is a problem in Uganda. And it is sad that the East African Community, the African Union and the United Nations have decided to turn a blind eye to it.

Until yesterday, Bobi Wine, the main challenger to strongman Yoweri Museveni in the recently concluded presidential elections, was still under house arrest.

Efforts by envoys and his supporters to visit him had been met with brute force by armed soldiers who blocked all roads leading to the homestead. This, despite the courts issuing orders declaring Mr Wine’s continued detention illegal. Like many other African leaders, President Museveni has demonstrated an unbridled greed for power,.

A liberation hero, he has been in power for more than 33 years. A few years back, he pushed through a bill that scrapped presidential term limits.

The strongman justifies his actions, claiming Mr Wine is using violence to advance his political agenda. On election day, videos showing packed military vehicles heading to the polling stations emerged on social media.

Another trending clip showed soldiers pulling dead bodies from the roadside moments after security forces clashed with protesters demanding the release of Mr Wine. According to official statistics, at least 54 innocent lives were lost in the clashes.  While Mr Museveni was declared the winner with 5.85 million votes against Mr Wine’s 3.5 million, the direct involvement of the military raised serious questions.

Were voters intimidated to vote for Mr Museveni? Were the elections rigged in favour of the veteran ruler? What Mr Museveni and other African dictators tend to forget is that you cannot be in power forever. After Daniel Moi’s 24 mostly dark years as Kenya’s president, he eventually stepped down in 2002.

The same happened to the late Robert Mugabe, who was removed by the Zimbabwean military in 2017.

Even though Mr Museveni liberated Uganda from dictatorship, the best gift he can give to his country is entrenching democracy and giving other leaders a chance to serve.

Harrison Otieno is a 20-year-old student.

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