Uganda should learn from The Philippines

The principle method of UDU is to conduct civic education to bring about non-violent change in Uganda. This is the mandate we were given at the Boston conference that built on the Los Angeles conference, three months earlier.

Accordingly we have done some research to learn lessons from those that struggled before us. Studies have shown that non-violent methods are producing more results than armed struggle. Over 70 percent of authoritarian regimes are being removed by non-violence. And violent means can’t succeed unless they have external support including mercenaries as Duncan Kafero of Ugandans to the Rescue (UTR) is doing and made a very unsuccessful attempt to convince Uganda several weeks ago.

Armed struggle has been abandoned in Spain and Palestine. It was abandoned in Iran, East Timore (Timor Leste) and The Philippines. Here is what happened in The Philippines.

“In February 1986, less than two years after the start of a mass popular uprising, the Philippine dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, was ousted from power. At the time scholars predicted that the Marcos regime would be overthrown by a communist insurgency or a military coup… Instead, a popular uprising that involved nearly every segment of society, including Marcos’s armed defenders, ultimately toppled the regime. The mass civil resistance that followed a political assassination and stolen election undermined the dictator’s most important sources of domestic and international power and led to a relatively peaceful democratic transition. … The Philippines People Power movement stands as an impressive example of effective nonviolent resistance”(Chenoweth and Stephan 2011).

Four lessons are worth noticing by Ugandans.

1. The people of The Philippines came together in large numbers in a short time.

2. The participants in nonviolence came from all walks of life including sections of the armed forces led by the minister of defense and deputy army commander.

3. The Philippines had a capable leader, Cardinal Jaime Sin, the Catholic Archbishop of Manila.

4. The nonviolent rebellion had external support.

The Hague process that began in November 2013 and brought Ugandans together from home and abroad and conducted a second follow up meeting in London over the past weekend using advanced technology to obtain comments and suggestions and to reach those who could not physically attend adopted a roadmap based on nonviolent methods (It is important to note that increasingly meetings including at the United Nations are conducted through electronic arrangements including skype making it possible for people to conduct business without being physically together in one room. This method is also drastically reducing the cost of travel and associated expenses).

The next step is to designate champions to draw up action plans that are location specific to avoid a one size fits all arrangement. These plans will be used to mobilize Ugandans for non-violent resistance to unseat the NRM government, set up a transitional government, run by a presidential team to avoid possible political instability after NRM has exited (records show that when groups that came together for a common purpose of removing an unpopular regime turn against one another as they scramble to capture power leading to instability, a situation that must be avoided). The public service commission will also be run by a team to iron out sectarianism in hiring and promoting staff. The army will similarly be run by a team drawn from different parts of Uganda to avoid one army commander and generals from one region or one ethnic group as has been the case since independence.

The transitional government will then conduct a population census to determine how many we are and who we are. A national convention will follow so Ugandans decide how they want to be governed as members of one country.

Meanwhile the political playing field will be leveled for free and fair multiparty elections at an appropriate date. This way a sustainable political base will be established to enable the people of Uganda to decide who should represent them and hold them accountable for their commissions and omissions.

Ugandans are urged to give serious attention to these proposals. Time has come for Ugandans to be innovative and reject settling into routines in a dynamic world.