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Peaceful and democratic political change virtually impossible in Uganda

Since NRM government came to power in 1986 through the barrel of the gun, it has been disproportionately and favorably treated by development partners, allowing it ten years to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in 1996 after it had virtually destroyed independence political parties of UPC and DP.

Parliament passed draconian anti-sectarian and anti-terrorism laws making it virtually impossible to protest against government wrongdoing including sectarianism, corruption, cronyism and mismanagement of public funds.

Under the anti-terrorism law any Ugandan can be arrested and detained indefinitely. The anti-terrorism Act prohibits inter alia “use of violence or threat of violence with intent to promote or achieve political, religious, economic and cultural or social ends in an unlawful manner”(Human Rights Watch 2003). The law covers activities in every field of human endeavor.

Human Rights Watch and other organizations including development partners have reported regularly on violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Yet western governments continue to do business as usual with Museveni government, apart from the recent attempt by some development partners to withdraw support until the situation has improved.

Uganda does not have an independent electoral commission. The Commonwealth Observer team during the 2011 presidential and parliamentary elections reported that the electoral process lacked a level playing field, making it difficult to compete against the ruling NRM political party. Yet some western governments sent congratulatory messages to the president of Uganda for his re-election.

Uganda has been registered in the 2012 report as a failed state by the Foreign Policy magazine in collaboration with the Fund for Peace. The report describes Museveni as a tyrant who has allowed a climate of impunity for serious abuses by the police and the military. Malnutrition and poverty remain among the most difficult challenges. There have been fatal and non-fatal shootings by the security forces and other abuses such as beatings, theft, and rape and no member of the security forces has been held accountable.

The people of Uganda are trying to effect peaceful change of regime but the task is made difficult by the support the Museveni government continues to get from development partners including ongoing attempts to re-brand Uganda, NRM government and the president. Uganda doesn’t need re-branding by external forces. It needs a peaceful change of regime in the first instance.

We appeal to development partners to help create a level playing field including withdrawing support for corrupt candidates seeking international organizations high offices, stopping to receive government officials including the president and/or visiting Uganda by senior officials including ministers, prime ministers and presidents as a demonstration of solidarity with the people of Uganda who are sovereign.

Eric Kashambuzi

Secretary General, UDU

© 2011 United Democratic Ugandans. All Rights Reserved.