General elections take place today in Uganda. As we in the United States are currently in the midst of primaries, and undergoing all the steps to lead to our own general elections, my heart cannot help but break for Uganda. As frustrated as I get with our own process, and sometimes the outcomes, I am equally grateful for that process and a faith that the outcomes are fair and honest.
Today, I ask that you stand with us, and pray for Uganda.
As someone who loves Uganda and the people there, I ask that you join me (and our team) in praying for them. Pray for fairness, for a peaceful process, for honest outcomes, for whomever is elected to have wisdom in leading Uganda to new and better places.
The key election issues:
~ Corruption and quality of public services,
~ Infrastructure development,
~ and health care.
A brief history:
Uganda was under the British until independence in 1962. There followed military rule. Most people over a certain age (myself included) can never forget the rule of the brutal dictator Idi Amin. An Army General, he ruled with terror and murdered anyone who stood in his way. He destroyed railways, slaughtered wild animal for his pleasure and kicked most foreigners out of the country so vital businesses disappeared overnight. The country collapsed.
The country held its first multi‐party democratic elections in 2005.
Yoweri Museveni, also a military man, has been in office since winning a five year guerrilla war in 1986. As I stated, he is now seeking to further extend his 30 year rule. Like many other African rulers, some say he is reluctant to hand over his power, since once he goes, many truths will be uncovered. He is quoted as saying “I entered by the gun and I shall only leave by the gun”. Many Ugandans therefore fear a bloody conflict, and so view a vote for him as a vote for stability and continued peace, rather than face the possible alternatives. He has reportedly said that he will occupy the office, regardless of the outcome of this election.
Over 15 million Ugandans are expected to vote today, out of a 37 million possible voters. In view of possible violent protests, the police have received new equipment for riot and crowd control. The news today says that 149,000 Police have been deployed into Kampala (the capital). There are teargas armoured vehicles positioned at strategic roundabouts and junctions. The people there have been warned to stock up on food and water and keep their phones charged and fuel in their cars. They have been advised to keep well away from town and busy public areas, just in case.
President Yoweri Museveni is given as favorite in front of the other seven candidates. The incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni, now 71, who has governed Uganda for 30 years, is seeking another five-year term on the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). In 2005, President Museveni won a campaign to lift the constitutional term limits, thus extending his rule.
There are a number of candidates who have put themselves up for election, but two are notably in the running against Museveni. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate is Amama Mbabazi, a former Prime Minister in the present government until he fell out with Museveni and was sacked in 2014. The other, Col. Dr Kizza Besigye, a candidate for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is from the town we will be working in when we return to Uganda in August, Rukungiri. He is well supported amongst his own tribe in western Uganda. He stood for election 5 years ago and was defeated amongst crys of vote rigging and corruption.The first ever TV debate was hosted recently but Museveni was notably absent. Museveni faces criticism from the West over the country’s worsening human rights record and he has accused Western Donors, concerned about misappropriation of donations, as interfering.
The candidates standing against Museveni have been arrested and held by Police on numerous occasions for “inciting unrest” and their rallies broken up with allegations that they are unsanctioned. The Police even raided the print room where the FDC manifesto was being printed. Uganda Broadcasting Corporation is state owned and has given Museveni an unfair portion of airtime compared to the other candidates.
Two election voting stations have already been closed, and voting there canceled because they received fake ballots. Teargas has been fired on crowds in Kampala because the crowds were angry over waiting hours for election materials to finally arrive.
One person died on Monday, when he was caught in a clash between Besigye supporters and security forces in Kampala. Several people were wounded as police fired bullets and tear gas, and the opposition threw rocks. The people of Uganda have become accustomed to this being “the norm” anytime someone is rallying for support in opposition to Museveni.
Please pray for peace this week with the election and people of Uganda. Pray for those voting that they may vote with their conscience and not simply follow the general consensus. Pray for fair voting on polling day. Pray against corruption. Pray for peace once the results are declared, that Uganda may be God fearing Country and those who rule do so with servant‐hearts, for the good of their country.
(The pictures in this post are from Ugandans our team met in 2015)