A Look at the Election

Some of my research has focused on the elections in January and the problems that arose around this time. On January 14, the Ugandan election was held.  President Yoweri Museveni won his sixth term in office by defeating former singer Bobi Wine. President Musevni took office in 1986 after he helped oust President Obote and has held power ever since.

 Uganda was a British colony, and it achieved its independence in 1962. Since its independence, there has never been a peaceful, democratic change of leader. Both of Musevni’s predecessors were ousted by the man that took their place.

 In 2017, the Ugandan legislature amended the Constitution so that Musevni could run for reelection again. Before the amendment, Musevni would have been ineligible to run because he would have been over 75 years old. With this change, it allowed Musevni to run for President again and stay in power.

 Wine questioned the results and how the votes had been tallied as the government imposed an Internet blackout across the country during the elections. The military was also out in force and social media had been turned off before the election took place. In the capital city, Kampala, soldiers and police officers were out in large numbers and Wine’s house was surrounded by forces and they were not allowing anyone in or out of the house.

 Top American diplomats to Africa said that the electoral processes were “fundamentally flawed” citing the number of civil society workers that were arrested, the denial to authorize official election observers and the violence and brutality used against members of the opposition party.

 Even before January, there had been many problems. Wine was arrested in November, which led to many protests in which many people were injured or killed. Many campaign workers and supporters had also been detained by the authorities. Wine reported during the election that his driver had been killed by the government and that his home had been raided. Musevni maintained that none of this was done because of Wine’s politics, but to stop violence and riots.

 The violence around the elections and the many problems with the electoral process show how fragile democracy is and how important it is to protect it.