Marriages of convenience don’t last and end up catastrophic

In an effort to beat The Hague process (the work being undertaken by Ugandans since we met in The Hague in November 2013 to stop 2016 elections, change the NRM regime by non-violent means and establish a transitional government to conduct a population census, organize a national conference so Ugandans decide how they want to be governed and ultimately organize multi-party elections), Sejusa has rushed into forming a coalition of so-called military groups that he will lead hoping to oust the NRM regime ahead of The Hague process.

History is full of examples of what goes wrong when coalitions are formed in a hurry to block or oust a competing group. Let us begin with Uganda.

1. Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC) entered into a rushed coalition of convenience with Kabaka Yekka (KY) when their ideologies were totally different for the sake of ousting the Democratic Party (DP) from power before independence (DP had formed the self-governing government). Within two years the marriage was in trouble and ended up catastrophic in 1966/1967 political and constitutional crisis.

2. The marriage of convenience between Obote and Ibingira to stop Kakonge from becoming a popular national figure ended up in a catastrophe with Ibingira and his colleagues in the cabinet arrested for plotting to overthrow the government.

3. The marriage of convenience between Lule and Museveni to oust Obote II government ended up not giving power to DP that had lost the 1980 elections that triggered the guerrilla war but made Museveni president through the back door leaving many people bitter to this day after five years of a bloody guerrilla war.

4. The marriage of convenience between Museveni and Okello ended up catastrophic because Museveni did not fulfill his part of the deal. As Robert Gersony (1997) reported after overthrowing the Obote regime in 1985 the “Acholi … had finally begun to enjoy some of the power and privileges of more senior rank, political and civil service appointments… They were deprived of all this by the NRA military victory. … They felt cheated by Museveni when he betrayed the Nairobi agreement. ‘We [Acholi] paved the way for the NRA by overthrowing Obote … and Museveni paid us back by betraying us’”. Sejusa who was with Museveni all along knows these tricks and will surely use them against those in the coalition when the time comes.

Let us look at other examples.

1. In a struggle for power a marriage of convenience was struck among Crassus the richest man in Rome and ambitious Pompey and Caesar Generals. Crassus was killed in battle leaving Pompey and Caesar to battle it out. There followed a year of civil war and Pompey was defeated.

2. In Ethiopian revolution of 1974 a marriage of convenience was forged among Andom, Bante, Atnafu and Mengistu. After the overthrow of the imperial regime the four military men turned on one another and Mengistu emerged as the winner having defeated and murdered the three members of the coalition.

3. The marriage of convenience between ZANU PF and ZAPU PF to oust the UDI (unilateral declaration of independence) government of Ian Smith resulted in a civil war soon after independence between the forces of Nkomo and Mugabe with catastrophic consequences in Matabeleland.

4. The marriage of convenience among Madero, Zaparta and Villa to oust President Diaz from power was followed by bloody struggle with Madero killed first, then Zaparta and finally Villa.

The examples above are presented to show that marriages of convenience to beat someone else at the finishing line or oust someone already in power have by and large ended up very badly.

Accordingly, I have two messages for Ugandans:

1. Those who are joining with Sejusa – the man who gathered thick dirt under NRM in which he was one of the principal decision makers in matters of peace and war and life and death – need to think again. The people of Luwero Triangle, Northern and Eastern Uganda especially need to be particularly concerned about the leadership of Sejusa. And for all Ugandans don’t forget that Sejusa was head of both ISO and ESO under whose leadership many Ugandans at home and abroad suffered torture and or death. We Ugandans can’t and must not forget so easily. There are also speculations subject to confirmation that Sejusa has surrounded himself with his ESO agents to form the Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) which remains a secret body and now a military coalition possibly with the same members. That is why there is no transparency in what Sejusa is doing.

2. There are also rumors subject to confirmation that Sejusa is actually working for Museveni to weaken opposition forces in the diaspora. That is why he is not a refuge but on a visa living comfortably in Europe. He has failed to comment on the alleged deposit on his Swiss bank account of $1 million by Museveni to help him cripple opposition in the diaspora.

The Hague process is building on work began largely in 2011 through civic education on radio munansi, Ugandans at Heart Forum; Face book and Tweeter, The London Evening Post and the New York-based Black Star News etc; diplomatic networking and research and writing all published in,

The London Peace conference held on June 27-29, 2014 has issued a report demonstrating that non-violent struggle has removed some 70 percent of authoritarian governments from power while violent resistance is declining fast. Attached to the report are 198 methods of mobilizing the people for non-violent struggle.

The Hague process has called for cancellation of 2016 elections, removal of NRM government by peaceful means, establishing a transitional government of all Ugandans to avoid post-NRM political instability or civil war (witness what is happening in Libya and Central African Republic) led by a presidential team rather than one person; conducting a population census to help plan for the country, convening a national convention so Ugandans decide how they want to be governed; and ultimately conduct free and fair multi-party elections.

The people of Uganda are tired of bloody wars and war begets war. This must end. The Great Lakes region has established mechanisms to ensure no more wars. African Union has made it clear that change of government by military means will not be allowed. However, should a regime be overthrown by military means those involved will not be allowed to form a government witness Mali and Central African Republic. M23 was booted out of DRC. The Security Council of the United Nations demands dispute resolution by peaceful means first.

Thus, Sejusa and those with him bent military actions need to think again. Ugandans always remember what war does by revisiting the 1966 war against Kabaka’s palace; the 1979 war that destroyed Mbarara and Masaka towns; the Luwero Triangle that left half the population there dead and the Northern and Eastern war that used scorched earth methods under the overall supervision of Sejusa to destroy any living object on land, in the air and under water. This could be repeated again with impunity should Sejusa capture power by military means.

Finally, readers please note that the civil war that followed the overthrow of the Ethiopian Imperial regime in 1974 was due to the fact that it was the people (civilian people) that mobilized for the regime change. When they were about to take over the military stepped in. The people resisted and there followed many years of bloody struggle.

In Uganda the struggle by the people started in earnest after the 2011 stolen elections. We have made progress in mobilizing at home and abroad to oust NRM regime by peaceful means. The military put together by Sejusa at this late stage to supplant people’s efforts will be resisted and could possibly lead to a civil war. This is not inciting the people but warning about what might happen. Ugandans are now enlightened. They know their human rights and fundamental freedoms and won’t give them up without resistance this time. We need the Filipino model (People Power) where the civilians and security forces joined hands and successfully ousted Ferdinand Marcos from power without bloodshed. The Hague Process is built on the Filipino model where civilians and former soldiers have joined as individuals to present a common message of peaceful regime change and coordination of mass mobilization activities. The chairpersonship will rotate so that we don’t create rigid institutional structures that evolve into dictatorship. For us everyone is a leader according to comparative advantage.

Eric Kashambuzi