Two weeks ago, Ugandans on social and mainstream media went into a frenzy after president Yoweri Museveni made a major shake-up of the police hierarchy, appointing four senior army officers to key positions, in a move interpreted as a preparation for the conduct of the 2021 elections.
The president named army men to the positions of Chief of Joint Staff, Crime Intelligence, Human Resource Development and Training, and Human Resource and Administration.
Civil society, the Uganda Law Society and opposition figures said that the appointment of the army officers to top positions in the police amounted to militarising the force, which could lead to impunity and brutality towards citizens.
The Uganda Law Society noted that the army did not have a good history working together with police.
Recent opinion polls show Wine mounting a serious challenge, especially in Kampala. He is encouraged by events in places such as Ukraine, where Volodymyr Zelensky, a comedian with no political pedigree, recently won the presidency. “We have a funny saying: ‘If they did it, then we can did it’,” he says, grinning. “So if those people in Ukraine did it, then we also can did it.”
According to Ambassador Ranneberger’s cables to Washington from my FOIA research, in the run up to the 2007 Kenyan electoral debacle the Embassy reported to Washington that there was a desire on the part of the Kenya’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) to emulate Ukraine’s opposition to Soviet then Russian backed government culminating in what became known as “the Orange Revolution”.
The Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004 might never have taken place if not for U.S. aid. First, the former communists in control of the Kiev government declared their candidate won an election. Then, a U.S.-funded think tank tallied up exit polls that showed the government had lied and it really lost the election.
Next, a Ukranian TV newsman trained by a U.S. aid program broadcast the exit polls and set up its cameras on the main square for an all night vigil. Up to one million people came to join the vigil. Then the Supreme Court — which had been brought to visit U.S. courts in action — ruled the election was invalid and the government had to step down.
Furthermore, U.S. legal, legislative, journalism and other trainers taught judges, prosecutors, legislators and journalists how to do their jobs in a democratic system.
In Kenya, however, unlike in Ukraine, the U.S.-funded exit poll was suppressed rather than broadcast. TheNew York Timesreportedthat USAID’s agreement with the International Republican Institute to fund the poll stipulated that IRI should consult with USAID and the Embassy before releasing the poll, taking into account technical quality and “other diplomatic considerations”. (The USAID agreement was subquently, eventually, released to Clark Gibson of the UCSD, the primary author of the poll and consultant to IRI, under a FOIA request. I had the contract all along, of course, since I supervised the poll as IRI’s East Africa director but waited for the FOIA to write about this provision in the contact providing for Embassy diplomacy input with IRI on the release decision.)
Yanukovych was officially certified as the victor by the Central Election Commission, which itself was allegedly involved in falsification of electoral results by withholding the information it was receiving from local districts and running a parallel illegal computer server to manipulate the results. The next morning after the certification took place, Yushchenko spoke to supporters in Kiev, urging them to begin a series of mass protests, general strikes and sit-ins with the intent of crippling the government and forcing it to concede defeat.
In view of the threat of illegitimate government acceding to power, Yushchenko’s camp announced the creation of the Committee of National Salvation which declared a nationwide political strike.
Ranneberger noted in his cable that the situations in Ukraine and Kenya differed, but did not elaborate. In Ukraine there was ultimately a re-vote and in Kenya the altered election results showing a Kibaki win stood, with a partially implemented power sharing agreement eventually leading to a new constitution. How was Kenya in 2007 different from Ukraine in 2004? How would the U.S. react to a potentially disputed election in Uganda where Museveni has arguably even more control over the election management body than Kibaki did?