By Horace G Campbell
If Museveni had calculated that his opportunism over the rights of same gender loving persons would endear him to the oppressed Ugandans, he was mistaken and the election campaign since 2015 has brought out the extent of the isolation of the Museveni government regionally and internationally.
Uganda has very high unemployment among the youth who comprise the majority of the population. Inside East Africa, for nearly 20 years after 1986, Museveni had been a close ally of the political system of Tanzania, but after he decided that he was the kingmaker in the region, the Uganda government became isolated from Tanzania. Museveni was isolated at home and abroad and was supported by the elements of the ruling party in Kenya and sections of the Rwanda leadership around President Paul Kagame. And even in this splendid isolation, it devolved to the indicted Vice President of Kenya, William Ruto, to be one of the very few regional leaders to travel to Uganda to campaign for Museveni. Museveni became a reference point for those leaders in Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have embarked on efforts to extend their term limits so that they can remain in office.
The question that has been posed inside and outside of Uganda is, if Museveni did not achieve real change in the direction of Uganda after 30 years, why should Ugandans believe that another five years in power would lead to a dramatic change in the direction of the society? This argument has found favour with millions of Ugandans who have braved the intimidation of paid state thugs to turn out in opposition rallies. Museveni and his militaristic style has emerged as the number one issue for Ugandans in this week’s elections. From the images presented in the media of the turnout for the Besigye campaign in Mbarara, the heartland of President Museveni, there is a certain momentum that has developed in the country, with the masses coming out in large numbers to the rallies of the FDC. Besigye is being hailed as redeemer with poor peasants bringing donkeys for him to ride on into towns and villages.