The behavior of so-called Uganda leaders and potential leaders is unprecedented, to say the least. We have become overly obsessed with being MPs, ministers, ambassadors, councilors, mayors and bishops that we have virtually forgotten everything else. To get and retain these positions we have surrendered ourselves to one man – the appointing authority who is Museveni. Some have even described Museveni as godsend because they were given or promised gifts including cows and others cannot question what he says lest they annoy him and lose their comfortable jobs or miss a promotion.
Those who had principles and expressed opinions different from those of the appointing authority were silenced by offers of jobs with high-sounding titles and nothing else. After a while they would be blasted for incompetence and humiliated with dismissal or marginalization. Many others have succumbed to brown envelopes. When Museveni travels in Uganda or abroad Ugandans follow him hoping they will get a chance to shower superficial praises on him for an excellent job he is doing for the country and hope to get noticed in case a vacancy becomes available. Museveni has unleashed hecklers against the few that have stuck to their principles hoping to break their backs some day. The effort could be counter-productive.
Museveni was absolutely right when he stated in 1993 that “The army [security forces] should be just for guarding the borders [defending the state] and maintaining internal peace [law and order]… That is all… They should guard what the people want, not do what the people don’t want. I do not agree with military governments… I do not think the army has a role in government… The people are the sovereign force”(Africa Report July/August 1993).
Nobody can disagree with this statement. The problem is that Museveni practices what he does not preach. He does the opposite of what he says most of the time! And he has been doing this for the last twenty five years. The people of Uganda are now fed up because he has consistently and deliberately done what the people do not want – using security forces to violate their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
When Uganda’s Inspector General of Police Major General Kale Kayihura talks about receiving advance information from leaders about planned demonstrations, the date, venue and the numbers expected, he has in mind an ordinary demonstration regarding say a complaint about frequent floods in the capital city of Kampala. This kind of demonstration is not a revolt to change government.
What Ugandans have in mind are revolts similar to what happened during the peasants’ revolts in medieval Europe, French Revolution etc to change the regime or score major points except that we plan to do it peacefully and democratically through demonstrations.
In time and space, revolts and revolutions represent deep-seated and long-held grievances like poverty, unemployment and hunger as well as elections rigging as in Uganda since 1980. Ugandans have been frustrated for a long time and are very angry. They want to stop Museveni who has brought untold suffering from continuing as leader of Uganda after the messy elections.
What Ugandans are waiting for is a spark and this cannot be predicted in terms of date, venue or leaders. It could happen any time and possibly without leaders. Therefore there won’t be time to apply for police permits. Museveni did not get a police permit before he entered Luwero in 1981. So why does he demand one when we know he won’t give it.
In 1993 Museveni declared that if the people who are the sovereign force don’t want their leader, then he/she should go. He added unambiguously that the role of the army is to guard borders and maintain internal peace. “The army should guard what the people want, not do what the people don’t want”. The police force also has responsibility to maintain law and order.
Following the massively rigged elections of February 2011 with some five million Ugandans disenfranchised and many foreigners brought in to vote, the people of Uganda have rejected the results of these rigged elections at the presidential, parliamentary and local levels. They want to exercise their right of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech to denounce the results and stop the formation of an illegitimate government. International instruments and Uganda’s constitution allow peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. Kayihura cannot violate these rights and freedoms with impunity.
By banning planned demonstrations under the pretext that they will be violent, Kale Kayihura is in effect imposing Museveni as president of Uganda. This imposition goes against Museveni’s own understanding of the will of the people as he articulated in 1993 namely that security forces should guard what the people want, not do what the people don’t want. The people of Uganda have rejected the February 18 elections so Museveni cannot be president without their consent. Millions of them were disenfranchised.
Greetings fellow Ugandans and friends
There was a time when monarchs in Europe had absolute powers and ruled by divine right (the right to rule came from God, not from the people). In the 18th century, leading (enlightenment) thinkers in Western Europe challenged the power of absolute monarchy.
To prevent one leader or a group of people from becoming too powerful and gain total control of government, Baron de Montesquieu suggested separation of power into three independent branches. The legislative branch would pass laws; the executive and judicial branches would implement and interpret them respectively.
The independence of the legislative and judicial branches has kept the executive branch in check in mature democratic countries. Consequently executive branches do not meddle in election matters.
However, in some countries separation of powers exists in theory only. For example, in Uganda presidents have reduced the independence of legislative and judicial branches and strengthened the power of the executive branch. Legislative and judicial branches have virtually become rubber stamps for the presidency – hence opposition leaders’ decision not to go to the Supreme Court after the rigged 2011 elections.
Greetings fellow Ugandans and friends
Let me begin with good news. The United Nations and the international community in general have increasingly shifted focus from support to governments and national sovereignty to people and their search for freedom, liberty, dignity and equality.
In 2005, the United Nations adopted a resolution on the Responsibility to Protect. It means that if a government is unwilling or unable to protect its people against crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, the international community has a responsibility to respond and restore order.
Thus, as we struggle to prevent Museveni from forming an illegitimate regime, we need to realize that the international community is on the side of Ugandans who have rejected the recently held elections. To facilitate our discussion this morning about the illegitimacy of elections, let us remind ourselves of the following points.
1. For elections results to be legitimate there must be a level playing field to allow a free and fair electoral cycle. While peace on polling day is necessary, it is not sufficient to render elections results legitimate as some people have argued.
During an interview, Margaret A. Novicki of Africa Report asked Museveni “What advice would you give to your African colleagues who are resisting movement towards democracy?
Museveni responded that “I have no sympathy for those who resist democracy. Democracy should not be resisted. Power belongs to the people, not to an individual. Why should you want power for yourself? Who are you? You are a servant of the people. If the people don’t want you, then you go and do other things and they elect whom they want. I have no sympathy for them”(Africa Report July/August 1993).
The people of Uganda have rejected the 2011 presidential results because of massive rigging, disenfranchising voters, inflating voter register, allowing foreigners to vote, military intimidation, using public funds to bribe voters and relying on a partial electoral commission in Museveni’s favor. The people of Uganda want to exercise their natural right to demonstrate peacefully against the presidential results and convince Museveni to step down so that free and fair elections based on a level playing field are conducted.
Revolutions occur when the people (ruled) or their representatives demand basic changes in their governance relationships with the rulers. Revolutions can be bloodless like the Glorious (peaceful) Revolution of 1688 in England or bloody like the French Revolution of 1789-1799. Revolutions reflect deep-seated and long-held grievances by the public against their leaders. Revolutions occur when these grievances reach a boiling point. Has Uganda reached that point?
Before examining conditions for a revolution in Uganda let us quickly review conditions and steps taken in England and France to effect fundamental changes – Revolutions – in the relations between the rulers and the ruled.
In England, conditions that led to the revolution of 1688 started with James I who had been king of Scotland. He became king of England in 1603 following the death of Queen Elizabeth I from the Tudor family. James was a member of the Stuart family. The Stuart kings (James I, Charles I, Charles II and James II) ruled England from 1603 to 1689. Parliament conflicted with Stuart kings, fought them and limited their powers for many reasons including the fact that James I had been king of Scotland and therefore a foreigner as king of England.
The Rome Statute came into force on July 1, 2002 and Uganda is a signatory.
The States Parties to this Statute are “Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of these crimes”.
It is the duty of every State to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over those responsible for international crimes.
Article 5: Crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court
(a) The crime of genocide;
(b) Crimes against humanity;
(c) War crimes;
(d) The crime of aggression
Genocide (Article 6) any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
When I was growing up, we had unwritten rules, regulations and procedures at family and community levels (I am not talking about the rulers and the ruled because that is a totally different story). Nobody was above them. They were designed to ensure justice and equality, maintain law and order and respect for private property. Everyone had dignity within that community. Individuals and groups had responsibilities. For example, among children, the older one was obliged to take care of the young ones. Preference was especially given to weak or sick members. We did not take advantage of them.
Stealing or possessing something that was not yours was strictly forbidden. For example, when you picked up some money or handkerchief you would take it to the priest who would announce lost and found items on Sunday. People who swindled others would not get away with it.
There were procedures for sharing information and resolving disputes to avoid rule of the jungle. The most important instrument was sharing information. If a neighbor found your child doing something inappropriate, parents would be notified to take corrective steps. If a child stayed with friends or relatives, parents or relatives would be notified. Disappearance of children was unheard of!