Northern Uganda

This started as the on-line journal of Africa Anonymous while she was an Graduate Fellow researching and working in Northern Uganda. You gotta be good. You gotta be strong. You gotta be 2,000 places at once.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Uganda Election Season!

Ugandan Campaign: Politics as Soap Opera
By Emily WaxWashington Post Foreign ServiceThursday, February 23, 2006; A16
KAMPALA, Uganda, Feb. 22 --

Ugandans joke that the campaign leading up to their first multiparty election in 25 years has had all the plot twists and heated emotions of the melodramatic Nigerian soap operas that are beloved across Africa.
Ex-lovers, former friends, wives, a dictator's widow and a goat specialist are among the colorful characters vying for power in presidential and parliamentary elections Thursday.
The top opposition candidate, Kizza Besigye, has been squeezing in campaigning between court dates. He was arrested and jailed in November on treason, terrorism, rape and weapons charges but is out on bail. He and foreign diplomats say the charges were politically motivated, instigated by President Yoweri Museveni, his former comrade in arms and now his nemesis.
Museveni, a populist leader once feted by rock stars and American presidents, has become the target of human rights groups and is accused of trying to cling to power indefinitely. "Our president is acting like a needy boyfriend who can't take a hint," said Lydia Musis, 24, a computer science student.
Another contender for the top job is Abed Bwanika, a goat doctor. As head of the Ugandan Goat Society, he insists that his countrymen can climb out of poverty by raising livestock, specifically goats. He's way behind in the polls.
Then, there's a trio of women affectionately called "the three big mamas."
One of the women is a housewife who promised her dying husband that she would keep his political party alive. With her flowing skirts and stylish Afro, Miria Obote, 70, concedes that she has little interest in politics but is running for president anyway.
Obote has spent the past few days atoning for the sins of her husband, Milton Obote, who ruled the country most recently from 1980 to 1985 and is still despised by many Ugandans for his violent repression of dissent, which left an estimated 100,000 Ugandans dead, human rights groups say.
Obote and her husband left the country when Museveni launched a guerrilla war to oust his government. This campaign season has been the longest she's been on Ugandan soil in years.
"I would like to apologize to those who were hurt in our previous governments," she said in a press statement. "I regret what happened and would like to appeal to all of you to forget the past as we start afresh."
Then there's the current first lady, Janet Museveni, a born-again Christian who has said she is running for a seat in parliament because God told her to serve.
Janet Museveni spent much of last year promoting parties for virgins in order to push abstinence over Uganda's old HIV prevention policy, which supported condoms as an option.
The first lady, who with serious eyes and bifocals has the appearance of a high school principal, used to be chatty with journalists of all stripes. But now even the plugged-in Ugandan press says she's not giving interviews.
One woman who is talking is Winnie Byanyima, Besigye's wife, who happens to have been Museveni's girlfriend during the guerrilla war.
She's not on the ballot. But when Museveni threw Byanyima's husband in jail last year just weeks after he returned from exile to run for president, she called her old boyfriend a "coward who fears even his own shadow." She ended up spending Christmas alone.
For her devotion to her husband, many here call her the Hillary Clinton of Uganda.
With Besigye in and out of court on various allegations, Byanyima recently threatened to fire back and "bring documentary evidence to show what a traitor Museveni is to his family and the whole nation."
"All politicians are failed soap stars, but Museveni is acting like a typical African dictator, and I have to protect my husband from the mudslinging," she said in an interview.
Many Ugandans like her tough talk in the typically male-dominated sphere of politics in Africa.
These days, women are stepping out of the shadow of their husbands. But that doesn't mean the campaign is any less fierce.
"It's just the usual politics. Anyway, they are from my tribe: the women's tribe," sang out an exuberant Doreen Turinawe, 20, who was sitting under a sun umbrella selling yellow T-shirts with Janet Museveni's face on them. "We want Big Men out and Big Women in."


  • At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Am not very happy by the type of writing that was exhibited in the article title "Ugnada Election Season". Professionalism should be show utmost with this kind of writing that targets the international readers per se.


  • At 4:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    i thank you for your work in trying to help the situation in the north.
    I however was a bit dismayed about the commments on Miria Obote, It however goes to show how powerful museveni's propaganda has been over the last 20 yrs. Ugandans are now beginning to realise the Obote was the most honest ,nationalistic and patrotic president we have had.

    Museveni recently refered to northeners as having been his enemies right from Amins Time, He had an American depoted who mayhave been the last chance at capturing Kony, Museveni has been killing northeners by Proxy and it has served him well to use Kony to kill these people

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