Do you recognize this man?
No? Well he’s the newest hip-hop/rap sensation to hit the international scene. He’s also Uganda‘s President.
Yoweri Museveni has been the President of Uganda since 1986. He was one of the guerrilla leaders that ousted Idi Amin and then fought against the Obote Regime. He quickly gained support from the West. Under his leadership, Uganda’s economy rapidly grew and the country was improving and Uganda mounted one of the more successful responses to HIV/AIDS.
Much like previous and contemporary African rulers and Presidents, Museveni enjoyed success and widespread support in his early years, but as time passed, his benevolent style of leadership slowly changed.
In 1996, the first free elections under Museveni’s leadership were held. Museveni won. Don’t worry, international observers said the election was free and fair. As his first elected term as President was coming to an end, he stated that the 2001 campaign would be his last run for President. It made sense that Museveni would gracefully bow down from the political scene because Uganda was no longer the celebrated African nation it had once been.
Museveni reached his international political pinnacle in 1998 when President Clinton visited the country. Of course this visit came too late, Museveni’s decline into the all too familiar story of African benevolent President becoming authoritarian strong-hands had already begun.
The first signs of Museveni’s and Uganda’s decline occurred when Tutsi rebel forces that would eventually slaughter thousands of Hutus invaded Rwanda from Uganda. Kagame, the Tutsi established leader of Rwanda was a former Museveni fighter. In 1998, the same year that President Clinton visited, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the Democratic Republic of Congo to finish the slaughtering of Hutus who had fled across the border and to assist the CIA overthrow the President of Zaire.
By the way, his re-election in 2001 was marked with considerable increases in violence, especially aimed at opposition leaders. The 2001 elections were not free and fair, the results were taken to Uganda’s Supreme Court and all five judges recognized irregularities and illegalities, but three of the judges believed that such issues did not ultimately change the outcome of the election. Museveni won and the Supreme Court ratified his victory.
As his second term unfolded, Museveni continued to restrict opposition movements and by 2006, Museveni had changed Uganda’s constitution in order to eliminate Presidential term limits.
Obviously he won re-election since he’s running again. Elections are to be held in February 2011. In his newest political stunt, Museveni has released the rap video. It is aimed at garnering support from the youth of Uganda. Maybe it will work, maybe the youth are too young and blind to his past infractions, lies and evil deeds, but maybe it won’t. Either way it’s time for the African Union and the United States to take a stand against the practice of writing Constitutional amendments that either increase of eliminate term limits; but then again, with the United States primarily focused on the prevention of Islamic fundamentalist gaining power, keeping Museveni in power may not be such a terrible thing.
As the bearer of Democratic ideals, philosophy and law, shouldn’t the U.S. be interested and at least semi-involved in providing guidance and correction for the democratic process in all countries and not just the Islamic world?
Oh yeah, I almost forgot. According to Uganda’s law, homosexuals can be sentenced to prison anywhere from 14 years to life; but that’s not it, lawmakers have proposed a new bill that adds the death penalty as a legal punishment for homosexuality. Still think the United States shouldn’t be more involved?
Being the super power in a unipolar world implies such responsibilities. The U.S. has the responsibility and duty to promote and ensure free and fair elections throughout the world. But of course there will always be set backs (Palestine) to pushing for free, fair and democratic rule.