Saturday, February 13, 2016

War? ... maybe. Violence? ... probably.

My driver spoke with animated excitement as he drove us to Kampala this past Thursday.  He was recounting the deadly events of the previous night in the town in which my wife and I reside.

Besigye has drawn the largest crowds during the campaign
Evidently, a convoy of supporters of Kizza Besigye, a strong contender for President of Uganda on Election Day next Thursday, were driving wildly through the streets of Jinja.  Blue is the color of choice for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party and the peace sign is the signal of solidarity.

A truck passed the convey with the driver flashing this peace sign.  He was allowed to join the convoy as more supporters piled into the back of the truck.  Then, without warning, the driver
"lost control" of the truck, threw open his door, exited the vehicle, ran off, and disappeared.

The truck crashed with an estimated 60 people crammed on it.  Two were killed instantly. Four more died later in hospitals.  Two had their legs amputated.  26 injured were taken to local hospitals. 

All of this happened within several short blocks from our home in Jinja.

This blog may hold interest for only those in the West who have family and friends residing in Uganda.  But, it will be of extreme interest if the election results produce civil war or even large scale violence in a country that has enjoyed peace for three decades.

President Yower Museveni
The Uganda Presidential Election will be held next Thursday, February 18th.  The current president, Yoweri Museveni has been in office for 30 years.  He rescued the nation from two violent and cruel dictators, Idi Amin and Milton Obote, and initially set up a democracy for this nation described as the Pearl of Africa.

However, President Museveni had the constitution amended to allow him additional terms of office. Apparently addicted to power, he has refused to go ... and has even promised that he is not going if he loses the election on Thursday.

Determined FDC supporters are enthusiastically optimistic that their candidate, Besigye, will win the election.  And, if the size of the crowds following him throughout the country are any indication of the outcome, they are accurate. Besigye contends that his campaign has enjoyed such popular support that only voter intimidation and bribery could deny him victory on Election Day.

The threat of violence and even war plays a strategic role in this election.  Those over thirty have vivid memories of the fear and dread of war.  And, as much as they dislike this addiction to power, they have enjoyed the peace and the increasing prosperity it has brought to them and their nation. They do not like the prospect of more civil discord and violence.

In my opinion, those voting for Museveni are not voting for the man, but for peace.

Those under thirty have never experienced war. They are tired of a man who is old and will not go and leave a positive legacy, but instead pursues his addiction to power.  They believe that their candidate, Besigye, is the person to bring change.

In my opinion, those voting for Besigye are not voting for the man because he and his leadership is unknown.  Instead, they are voting for change.

Again, in my opinion, there is little prospect that the outcome of the election will be peaceful.

Sample paper ballot
A reliable source of mine told me this week that Wednesday evening the Election Commissioner was seen attempting to board an Emerites flight out of the country.  He was detained and forced to remain in Uganda until he announces the winner when the votes are counted.  His salary, of course, is paid by the ruling party.

The Commissioner is not the only one leaving the country.  East Indians and Pakistans are vacating the nation, in favor of safety, in surrounding countries.  Even missionaries are delaying their return to Uganda until they have witnessed the consequences of the election.

Businesses owned by expats are not re-stocking their shelves.  They will go into hiding until they have assessed the safety of the nation, after the election, before they continue their commercial enterprise.

President Museveni has the army which is largely loyal to him and many would fear revenge should Besigye take power.  Besigye's only "army" is composed of the people who support him.  They are NOT unaccustomed to rioting.  If elected, he has promised to form a national unity government that would include even members of the ruling NRM party.  His exact words were, "We consider that any government that will succeed the NRM must function as a transitional government because it must establish or re-establish foundations of a democracy.  We have been governed over the past 30 years by a military dictatorship.  As you are aware, in Uganda's entire history since independence, no leader has handed over peacefully."  But, few in the ruling party can believe this will ever be a reality without revenge.  It is presumed to only be vote getting rhetoric.

Pam and I have witnessed two previous elections ... in which both were predictably going to result in Museveni maintaining control. This election, however, promises to be to vastly different.  The relentless pursuit of the President to remain in control of the nation seems remarkably similar to the rule of a dictator.

While we are not experiencing any fear in relationship to what many are saying will be far from a peaceful resolve ... and we have noted that many, many people have been praying for peace and a few are fearful of war ... we remain confident.

Yes, the circumstances are different and the prospects are different, but God and His presence, promises, and provisions have never changed.



2 comments:

  1. We shall continue to cover you in prayer. WE READ THIS AND THOUGHT OF YOU.

    "IN THE SECRET PLACE OF THE MOST HIGH! THERE YOU WILL FIND DELIVERANCE.
    YOU WILL NOT BE AFRAID OF THE TERROR AT NIGHT,NOR OF THE VIOLENCE IN THE DAY.
    A THOUSAND MAY FALL AT YOUR SIDE, AND TEN THOUSAND AT YOUR RIGHT HAND,
    BUT IT SHALL NOT COME NEAR YOU, BECAUSE YOU HAVE MADE THE LORD YOUR REFUGE.
    AND YOU HAVE MADE THE MOST HIGH YOUR DWELLING PLACE." LOVE YOU, MOM & DUKE
    PSALM 91: 3,5,7,9

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