The formation of a national unity government once President Yoweri Museveni has left power is the only way to stop a bloodletting that is likely to be carried out on people believed to be benefitting from the current regime. In an article he has written for The London Evening Post, Amii Omara-Otunnu, professor of African history at the University of Connecticut in the United States of America, also argues that this is the only way the country will wake up from the nightmare the NRM has thrown it into. Educated at Makerere University, Kampala, Oxford University here in England and Harvard in the United States, Prof Omara-Otunnu who also heads the Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) further argues that Ugandan elites must understand that the struggle to free Uganda from the hands of the NRM is not about them as individuals but it is about ‘the great majority of Ugandans who continue to wallow in poverty and despair, with joyous stoicism’.
We hereby bring the First Part of Prof Omara-Otunnu’s article.
In line with its ethical approach and vision for the country, and taking into account the state of fragmentation and marginalization in Uganda, Freedom and Unity Front (FUF) on July 28, 2015 made public its long-held policy position for the formation of National Unity Government (NUG). The organization is delighted that the proposal is gaining traction in the international community and among some political elites, as the most reasonable way forward. In the policy proposal, FUF made it clear that a presidential council of four should head the NUG, coupled with balanced distribution of ministerial and other high profile positions, on regional basis. Implemented in good faith and properly, it should moderately address the concern raised by General Henry Tumukunde, former head of Internal Security Organization, that it is time to move the concentration of power from western Uganda. If the proposal is to work for the common and greater good of the country, however, it will not be sufficient for political elites to show guile in cloak and dagger manoeuvrings. The elites must demonstrate that besides courage, they possess humility, which counsels them to recognize that the struggle to redeem Uganda is not about them individually, but it is about the great majority of Ugandans who continue to wallow in poverty and despair, with joyous stoicism.
The proposal by FUF for the formation of a NUG takes into account the current situation where the socio-political conditions are quite toxic and volatile in the country. A merit of a NUG is that it should afford various socio-political groups space and opportunity for confidence building and in the process forestall imminent catastrophe. A point that needs to be made abundantly clear without any ambiguity is that if Uganda is to develop as a progressive country, it cannot afford to relish in continual vicious cycles of recrimination and bloodletting. As a people, we Ugandans, and for that matter Africans, must realize that it is not by making others suffer that we shall achieve happiness, security and progress. But rather, our individual and group happiness, security and progress depend upon social harmony and peace brought about by substituting justice for repression and equality of treatment for discrimination and domination. The time has come for us to endeavour not to be undone by the fetish of power politics and the shallowness of moral grounding. The habit of settling scores should not become part of our political DNA. Lest we forget, it should be remembered that Uganda’s recent history of political conflict and conflict resolution is not something to be proud of.
The cold fact of the matter is that given the state of fragmentation and repression in the country, unless enlightened, courageous and proactive strategy is in place soon, a whiff of any change might get a cross-section of Ugandans to embark on a killing spree of individuals, social groups and even goats and chickens that are associated with, and who are perceived to have been beneficiaries of, the current regime. This nightmare scenario is not extrapolated from frivolous prognosis; rather, it is based on Uganda’s recent history. A few examples will illustrate the point. In the aftermath of the 1966 crisis in the power struggle between the King of Buganda, Kabaka Edward Mutesa, and Prime Minister of Uganda Milton Obote, Baganda as a group were victimized needlessly, simply because they came from Buganda. After the military coup led by Idi Amin in 1971, Acholi and Langi we killed in the thousands simply because of their linguistic and regional affinity with the ousted Milton Obote. After the overthrow of Idi Amin in 1979, people from West Nile were subjected to gruesome collective punishment simply because they came from the same region as Idi Amin.