Uganda: Besigye and Museveni, a tale of two presidents

by Ann Garrison

KPFA Weekend News broadcast May 14, 2016

Dr. Kizza Besigye and Gen. Yoweri Museveni both claim to be the president of Uganda elected on Feb. 18, 2016.

Transcript

Dr. Kizza Besigye held the Holy Bible and swore in as the president of Uganda on May 11, 2016. Yoweri Museveni's security forces arrested him three hours later. Dr Besigye has since been charged with treason.
Dr. Kizza Besigye held the Holy Bible and swore in as the president of Uganda on May 11, 2016. Yoweri Museveni’s security forces arrested him three hours later. Dr Besigye has since been charged with treason.

KPFA Weekend News Anchor: Dr. Kizza Besigye and Gen. Yoweri Museveni both swore in as president of Uganda at competing inaugural ceremonies this week. Both claim to have won the Feb. 18 election, and Dr. Besigye has demanded an election audit.

Gen. Museveni, the incumbent president now entering his fourth decade in power, had Besigye arrested and charged with treason. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: On Wednesday, Dr. Kizza Besigye swore in as Uganda’s president for the next five years, on an outdoor stage with birds chirping in the background and an enthusiastic crowd applauding.

Dr. Kizza Besigye: I, Kizza Besigye Kefife, swear in the name of the Almighty God that I shall faithfully exercise the functions of the president of Uganda and shall uphold, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and observe the laws of Uganda. And that I shall promote the welfare of the people of Uganda, so help me God.

Dr. Kizza Besigye, left, and Gen. Yoweri Museveni both claim to have won Uganda's Feb. 18, 2016, election.
Dr. Kizza Besigye, left, and Gen. Yoweri Museveni both claim to have won Uganda’s Feb. 18, 2016, election.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: President Yoweri Museveni’s security forces arrested Dr. Besigye several hours later and the Uganda Daily Monitor reports that he has since been charged with treason. Museveni swore in as president the next day and his inauguration was attended by foreign heads of state and diplomats, though it did not go as smoothly as he might have liked.

Human Rights Watch had demanded that he arrest one of his guests, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, and deliver him to the International Criminal Court. Museveni instead disparaged the court in his inaugural speech, prompting a walk-out by E.U. and U.S. diplomats.

In April, the Washington Post Editorial Board published an op-ed titled “It’s time for the U.S. to rethink its approach to Uganda,” in which they wrote, “As aging autocrats such as Mr. Museveni use U.S.-bankrolled security forces to crack down on opposition candidates, journalists and peaceful protests, lavish security assistance from the United States may be helping to enable an environment of increasing repression in Uganda and sending the message to other African nations that trampling on rights is permissible so long as the country remains a U.S. counter-terrorism ally.”

On April 8, 2016, the Washington Post Editorial Board opined that the U.S. should rethink aid that enables President Museveni's security forces to crack down on basic democratic freedoms in Uganda.
On April 8, 2016, the Washington Post Editorial Board opined that the U.S. should rethink aid that enables President Museveni’s security forces to crack down on basic democratic freedoms in Uganda.

Dr. Kizza Besigye has implied that he would continue to partner with the U.S. in its counter-terrorism efforts, but he has also said that he is committed to:

1) Ending the Museveni regime’s infamous corruption and redirecting the nation’s wealth to infrastructure, including education, roads, electricity, hospitals and health networks.

2) Ending the brutal displacement of indigenous farmers to make way for mechanized agriculture.

3) Ending the Ugandan army and oligarchy’s plunder of eastern Congolese resources.

4) Reforming Uganda’s electoral system and making the Electoral Commission truly independent.

5) Ending the official persecution of same sex loving people.

In Berkeley, for Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.

Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News, Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening News, KPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.