Saturday, February 25, 2006

Uganda: A Test Case for African Democracy

So, President Museveni of Uganda pulled off a 59.3% victory in Uganda's recent multiparty Presidential elections. Kudos to Ugandans for having a relatively violence-free election. Kudos also to Ugandans for showing up to vote -- 59.3% turnout -- the Western democracies could be so lucky with such a high-level of voter participation.
The most important test for Uganda's democracy still remains: what will happen after the elections? Neither side should advocate violence, although it may be inevitable. Uganda, with all of its economic successes has really become a test-case for African democracy. It it cannot succeed in Uganda, where can it in Africa?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Museveni: The Answer for Uganda?

Ugandans are once again testing their resolve for democracy. It's easy for us in the West to criticize Ugandans for not seeing through Yoweri Museveni's "Big Man" politics, but when the "Big Man" implies that he will "go back to the bush" if he doesn't win, and reminds people of the chaos and violence that beset Uganda pre-Movement politics, it's no wonder that Ugandans will probably vote for "no change" in Thursday's presidential elections.
It's also no wonder that Dr. Kizza Besigye is behind in the polls. As Emily Wax's Washington Post article, "Ugandans Put "Big Man" Politics to Vote", outlines, Besigye had to try and win the hearts and minds of Ugandans while going from a maximum security prison on charges of treason and rape, to multiple court appearances.
Perhaps we should applaud the fact that Museveni just didn't have Besigye killed when he returned to Uganda -- Museveni has obviously become more sophisticated than previous Ugandans rulers in underming the opposition.
My guess is that Museveni will win tomorrow -- not because he is necessarily the best man for the job, but because he has established himself as the "big man" for the job.