Power also erroneously argued that President Museveni’s Government intimidated the media during the recent elections.
By Kintu Nyago
Certainly Dr. Samantha Power, the United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations observations on Uganda's political situation in the March 21 UN Security Council Open Debate on "The Prevention and Resolution of Conflict in the Great Lakes", were premised on a partial understanding of our concrete reality.
For instance, she argued that Uganda's legislation on non-governmental organisations is stifling. Actually she was unaware that this law is not an imposed decree. Rather it emerged through a participatory process that involved the input of the concerned NGOs.
It was also openly debated and passed by a democratically elected parliament. And the robustness of our NGO sector is illustrated by the fact that during the recent General Elections, many of them, under the Citizens Elections Observer Network-Uganda, freely observed this process and issued a critical report. And none was closed down.
Power also erroneously argued that President Museveni's Government intimidated the media during the recent elections.
Uganda as a democracy with a liberalised electronic media has hundreds of radio stations and scores of television networks. These literally can broadcast anything under the sun! And overall all the contesting Presidential candidates, in part based on their capacity to buy the required airtime were freely covered by the mainstream media.
This was clearly illustrated by the two Presidential Debates conducted on NTV-Uganda during prime time viewing.
Power's presentation also gave an impression that our electoral results were rigged in favour of President Museveni's ruling NRM party. This outlandish conclusion failed to appreciate the fact that these were robustly competed for elections at all levels. To that effect more than 80% of the members of the outgoing 9th Parliament were not re-elected by the Ugandan voter!
Among these included two senior Generals and 20 ministers, including the Ministers of Defence, Internal Affairs, Education etc. Had these polls been rigged, then these powerful men and women would have been the primary beneficiaries.
Furthermore the political opposition went on to freely win, through a clean sweep, the Local Government elections of the influential Kampala City! Had they been state orchestrated rigging, then such results would never have transpired.
Power adopts a biased conclusion regarding the outcome of our Presidential polls. Suffice in this instance to remind her that eight Presidential candidates and parties participated in this exercise. With five of them, the majority, notably the NRM, Farmers Party and the parties led by Ms. Maureen Kyalya, Prof, Baryamureba and Eng. Mabirizi agreeing with the elections results, as announced by our National Electoral Commission. Unless of course the views of these critical actors do not count in the calculation of the US premier diplomat!
Power requires to also appreciate that of the seven opposition Presidential candidates that contested in the Presidential polls, it is only Col. Kizza Besigye who is restricted to his home and precisely because he has issues with our law. And there is a consistent history of Col. Besigye's post elections destabilising activities. For instance in 2001, some of his supporters, led by his aide the camp, James Opoka, joined the nefarious Lord's Resistance Army.
While in November 2005 Besigye attempted to march into Kampala from Mityana road with a marauding mob that encouraged looting, that led to one looter being shot dead and property being destroyed.
While in May 2011, after President Museveni's Swearing In Ceremony, Besigye orchestrated a mob to block Entebbe road which again involved looting and so did the subsequent so called notorious "Walk to Work" that followed. With Besigye's cynical aim being to capture the headlines with the main casualties of this manipulative ploy being our struggling urban poor, many of whom are women.
Not even in the US, would such anarchy be allowed to prevail, where its Founding Fathers, 240 years ago, cautioned against mobocracy, in the famed Federalist Papers.
(The writer is Uganda's Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations)