Election year 2016 will be a turning point for Uganda, according to a report by the powerful American policy solutions provider, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
As a sign of likely instability, the June 30 report notes that “the NRM is on a long-term trajectory of decline, and thus its survivability by the end of President Museveni’s current presidential term is certainly in doubt.”
Titled “Assessing risks to stability in Sub-Saharan Africa”, the report was commissioned by the Unites States of America’s military Africa Command, AFRICOM, which plans for America’s strategic security interests on the continent. The US government often uses the CSIS reports to project the future and strategise for change. The report is based on events that have toppled regimes that appeared to have a firm grip on power in Egypt, Tunisia, and led to a western-backed armed rebellion in Libya.
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The report is based on studies in 10 countries; Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, and Uganda, that it describes as “undergoing the growing pains of democracy”.
It notes: “In Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Sudan, and Angola – democracy has little meaning beyond the ritualistic holding of elections in which political space is severely constrained and the winner is generally predetermined”.
Joel Barkan, a professor of political science at the University of Iowa and a specialist on politics and development policy in sub-Saharan Africa whose books about the politics of Sub-Saharan African countries are recommended readings in many universities, wrote the Uganda section of the report.
He notes that change is inevitable by all means either through anointment of a successor by Museveni himself or through the overthrow of Museveni or his chosen successor.
He says the style of Museveni’s governance has grave implications for the future stability of the country because it is highly personalised that the running of the country to a greater extent revolves around Museveni’s personal position.
At the centre of the report lies a big question on whether Museveni will run for a fifth elected term in 2016 at the age of 73 or who will be his successor if he decides to step down and how the succession will be managed not to create disputes both within the party and the country at large.
Although he seems to have an insatiable desire to remain in power, Barkan counsels, Museveni should be realistic enough to know he does not have much time left and the sooner he drafts his end game the better for him and his country.