So it is that time again. Election time in Uganda is coming….Actually elections aren’t until Feb 2016 but primaries are soon and papers are reporting that there are almost two dozen presidential candidates that have submitted nomination forms. This country tries to be a democracy but has a history that only includes one truly “free and fair” democratic election. (This was in 1996. Museveni initially came into power in 1986 through armed conflict and stays in power by changing the constitution to suit.) Mostly coups or rebellions have been the means to become a new president.
Today Mbabazi (the Prime Minister until 2014) tried campaigning here in Soroti. I don’t know if it was a planned thing or not (I hadn’t heard anything about it) but the police got all upset and forcibly removed him from the open park in the town center. Back in 2005 laws were put in place making it increasingly difficult for opposition to hold any rallies or anything that could be construed as political dissent of the current president. People got really angry and there was a good sized mob in town. I’m not exactly sure what happened as I cleared out as soon as the parade passed (I love that this city can close streets and have a parade anytime it wants, without any notice, on any day of the week ,at any time of the day, marching bands included.) but later in the afternoon as I skirted town to get to the hospital it was clear that things were escalating. Tear gas was being fired into the crowd that formed outside of the hotel that Mbabazi was in. Most of the protesters were unclear if his own security had locked him in to keep him safe or if the military had locked him in to keep him quiet. But they felt the need to light piles of tires on fire to make a point. Though, when I asked, protesters weren’t exactly sure what their point was. Around this time I was drawing far more attention than I wanted so decided that I really didn’t need to see my patients again this evening and decided not to push through the crowd.
|photo credit: Red Pepper News|
I really hope this isn’t a foretaste of the political situation of the coming months….
This makes Ugandan history as clear as anything else if you are interested.