Yoweri Museveni, 76, is virtually certain of winning the Ugandan presidential election this Thursday, January 14. Since 1986, he has ruled this country without interruption, not hesitating to use violence to subdue his population and neutralize his opposition. In the last general election in 2016, he was re-elected in the first round with 60.75%. “We are certain of victory”, he already declared at the beginning of the year. On Tuesday, he suspended access to social networks and messaging services: Ugandans no longer have the use of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Signal and Viber. Once again, the presidential campaign was marked by violence against the opposition, primarily against ragga singer Bobi Wine, 38.
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A campaign under the banner of state violence
Nothing has been spared him: multiple arrests, dispersal of his political meetings, flashballs, live ammunition, torture of activists in prison. The peak was reached on November 18, 2020: the police opened fire on his supporters who were protesting in the street against a new arrest of their candidate, killing 54 people.
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The other nine candidates were also targeted by the government. Patrick Amuriat, of the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), systematically addressed his barefoot supporters to recall the aggression he was the victim of on the day of his candidacy. In the name of the fight against Covid-19, all large gatherings of these candidates have been deleted. A rule never applied to meetings of the presidential party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM).
Elections in Uganda: indestructible Museveni
Bobi Wine, the rising star of Ugandan politics
If Bobi Wine has been so targeted by the police, it is because he is not an ordinary candidate for Yoweri Museveni. Known around the world, he embodies the expected change in this country ruled by an iron fist for thirty-five years. Especially among young people, in a country where population growth is one of the highest in the world (3.3% per year).
Bobi Wine has another potentially handicapping asset for Museveni: he is a Muganda (16% of the population), from the kingdom of Bouganda, now an administrative province, who gave his name to Uganda and who occupied a central place in the life of the country.
Yoweri Museveni less essential
This rise of the famous singer also comes at a time when Yoweri Musweni is no longer so indisputable for his main supporters, starting with Washington. Considered one of the prominent figures for Africa in the 1990s by the Clinton administration, this is no longer the case today because of its authoritarian drift and the new geopolitical situation in the region. .
The Tilenga project in Uganda, the excess of the “old world”
So even Assistant US Secretary of State for Africa Tibor Nagy said to himself on Tuesday “Concerned about reports that the Ugandan government has ordered internet providers to block social media and messaging”. And Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, urged “Ugandan authorities, particularly the security forces, to act in accordance with international human rights standards”.