Introduction – What Happened?
On Monday (15/2/21) Ugandan police arrested two men who had flogged an effigy of President Yoweri Museveni on a busy road in Kampala. An effigy is a sculpture or model of a person.
The two men who were arrested are called Luta Ferdinand Male and Nsereko Asharf. They described themselves to police as being activists (campaigners for social or political change). They said that the President had acted wrongly in the election of January 14th. President Museveni denied this claim.
Both men will face charges of being a public nuisance (an act which causes an inconvenience).
What happened in the election of January 14th?
The general election of January 14th in Uganda was very contested. In the election, President Museveni extended his rule by another term (period until the next election). Mr Museveni has already been President for 35 years. He has been in power since 1986 and is 76 years old. This means that Mr Museveni will be in power for the next five years
The closest competitor of the President is called Bobi Wine, who used to be a musician before he turned to politics. Bobi Wine does not agree with the outcome of the election, so he is contesting it.
The parliament of the European Union (EU) has said that there should be sanctions for those that were involved in human rights abuses during the elections. The parliament also said that the election lacked transparency (it was not clear to the people what the process of the election was). According to the parliament, this meant that the election was undemocratic.
Why did the EU Parliament call the election undemocratic?
It is impossible to know exactly what happened during the election. However there was violence during the campaigns, and dozens of people died. Before voting day, the government shut down the internet for several days. This undermined confidence in the election.
In a phone interview, Bobi Wine said that he was worried about his life and the life of his wife, because his house was surrounded by security forces that prevented him from leaving.
President Museveni denied these claims and said that the election was “the most cheating-free election” that has ever happened in Uganda’s History.
Apart from an African Union mission, no major international group monitored the election. This is one of the reasons why the EU, the United Nations and several rights groups have raised concerns.
African Elections Watch, a coalition of groups has 3000 election observers in Uganda. In a statement, the coalition said that the vote “did not meet the threshold of a democratic, free, fair, transparent and credible electoral process”.
Therefore, the fact that these two men were arrested for flogging an effigy of Mr Museveni suggests that there is increasing opposition to his rule. However his government is backed up by military and police power.