I greet you in the name of people who support democratic governance, the rule of law and the right to elect their own leaders.
I greet you in the name of all those who oppose state-sponsored political violence and tyranny.
I greet you more specifically on behalf of all Ugandans who pray that they and their children and loved ones survive the upcoming February 18 General Election.
Surely, based on the current level of state-sponsored election-related violence, many Ugandans will pay the ultimate price. Yet, Mr. President, you have the power to help prevent some possible election-related deaths.
Mr. President, as you know, of all the sister East African countries, Uganda has had the most tragic and destructive history. The country’s politics have been attended by much violence. In the years since independence in 1962, Uganda hasn’t seen a single peaceful transfer of power.
First there was the 1966 clash between prime minister Milton Obote and the Kabaka Edward Mutesa II, traditional king of Buganda and also President of Uganda; Mutesa ended up in exile where he died. In 1971 Gen. Idi Amin deposed Obote.
Amin fled in 1979; after he had made the mistake of invading Tanzania, a counter-attack destroyed his army. Obote came back to power after disputed elections. Obote was deposed, again, by the army under Gen. Tito Okello.
Gen. Okello and rebel leader Yoweri Museveni signed a peace deal; then Museveni deposed Okello.
Gen. Museveni has been in power for 30 years. You were 24 when he seized power.
Gen. Museveni has operated a regime of tyranny and divide-and-rule, setting Ugandans against each other. When he’s not stoking hatred between people from the Southern part of the country and the Northern part, he is leading a national demonization campaign against members of the LGBT community, simply to garner political support.
Yet, Ugandans have reached their limit. They will no longer allow Gen. Museveni to divide them.
You may have been following the presidential campaigns. Dr. Kizza Besigye, President of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), who has endured beatings and arrests for years under the Museveni regime has been drawing massive crowds.
Amama Mbabazi, Gen. Museveni’s former prime minister, who’s now abandoned him and running for president, will peel off votes from the same base.
Gen. Museveni and officials of his ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party fear possible election defeat come Feb. 18. So the regime’s military and political officials have made inflammatory statements that can lead to massive bloodshed as a result.
First it was Gen. Kale Kayihura the unashamedly partisan police commander. While addressing government recruited and trained militias called “Crime Preventers,” he said Gen. Museveni wouldn’t yield power even if he loses the election. He also said the “Crime Preventers,” rather than being armed with sticks must be armed with guns to prepare for “war.”
The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for human rights and democracy, Tom Malinowski, rebuked Gen. Kayihura, tweeting on Jan. 28 that Gen. Kayihura’s comments were “irresponsible” and “dangerous.”
The U.S. has been Uganda’s primary financial and military backer.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also called for the suspension of the pro-regime “Crime Preventers” and accused them of election-related violence.
Additionally, the State Department in a statement also condemned election-related violence by state security operatives.
(The statement also raised the issue of the disappearance of Christopher Aine, a senior aide to candidate Mbabazi; Aine’s relatives claim he was killed after being arrested by Gen. Kayihura’s police).
Not to be outdone by Kayihura, the ruling NRM party’s secretary general Ms. Justine Lumumba Kasule while addressing supporters in Wakiso issued a threat directed at youth who dare to protest any rigged election outcome. “Don’t send your children to bring chaos in Kampala and cause confusion during elections, disrupt peace in the country, government will handle you –you will be shot,” Lumumba Kasule said, adding: “The state will kill your children if they come to disorganize and destabilize the peace and security in Kampala and Wakiso.”
Mr President, it’s in this volatile context that many Ugandans were alarmed to learn through a report in a Kenyan newspaper, The Daily Nation on Feb. 5, that at least 35 military-style armored vehicles, some mounted with mounted ploughs — there is no snow in the streets of Uganda — and water cannons had arrived in the port of Mombasa, destined for Uganda.
Mr President, I urge you to block these vehicles from being shipped to Uganda before the elections; at the very least their arrival must be delayed.Mr. President, Kenyans are very familiar with the very painful and destructive consequences of election-related violence since your country was almost torn apart during the 2007 – 2008 vote.
Mr President, I urge you to do the right thing.
Readers can sign Petition Demanding that Kenyatta help save Ugandan lives by blocking the weapons.
Milton Allimadi Publisher and editor,