In what has become an international spectacle, the people of Uganda have shown their resolve to ensure actual democracy by starting the trend #WeAreRemovingADictator after rejecting the results of Sunday’s election showing the incumbent president Yoweri Museveni as winner.
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for 35 years and in recent years, he has become a beacon of tyranny and oppression of his people, who have since sought to vote him out of power.
As is the case with quite a number of African nations, President Museveni has refused to allow the mantle of leadership fall on any other individual ever since his ascension to the peak of political power in Uganda.
Most African leaders would much rather be “rulers” and have absolute control over everything, thereby leading to disgruntlement among the people and perpetual greed and and desperate desire to remain “in power”.
Situations like this never really pan out well as the most visible example of revolution against an oppressive state is visible with the Arab Spring, and in most recent times, the Malian coup.
The incumbent President Museveni is popular among his supporters for bringing relative peace and prosperity to the country, and in particular for his policies on health.
He helped limit the spread of HIV, and more recently his harsh lockdown – which closed schools and business, banned vehicle movement and imposed mandatory public mask use in May – is credited with tackling the coronavirus pandemic.
But while he was once hailed in the West as one of the new generation of African leaders, his critics accuse him of turning into another authoritarian leader, hence the recent #WeAreRemovingADictator trend.
He has warded off a few challengers to his rule all through his overextended tenure, most notably long-time opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who was arrested numerous times and decided not to run again for the presidency in 2021.
While Mr Museveni maintains a large support base, he faces increasing opposition over rising inequality and his rigid control over the country.
In the ongoing Uganda elections, there are 10 candidates challenging him for the presidency including former musician Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, best known by the stage name Bobi Wine.
He is fondly addresed as the “ghetto president”, having become an East African musical superstar in the early 2000s before switching to politics and winning a seat in parliament in 2017.
Bobi Wine is seen as the biggest challenge to Mr Museveni’s rule and has mobilised many young people who have not previously been involved in politics. He has repeatedly criticised the president in the past and accused him of creating fear in the people.
President Museveni has refused to take this challenge sitting down. He has in turn, accused Bobi Wine of seeking to destabilize the peace and upset the status quo of the affairs of the country.
Bobi Wine has therefore been arrested several times since he became involved in politics. He has spoken of a “revolution” against President Museveni.
He started the #WeAreRemovingADictator trend on Twitter by posting it on his Twitter page.
The “ghetto president” grew up in a slum in the capital, Kampala. His background and his efforts to promote social justice in his country through his music and as a politician have endeared him to this younger, more urban generation.
The campaigns leading up to the presidential elections in Uganda have been very violent and many attempts have been made by the current government to truncate the efforts of any seemingly tough opposition, with particular efforts against Bobi Wine and supporters.
There have been scenes captured of campaign posters being pulled down and burned, property being damaged and havoc being wreaked all in a bid to create a level of fear and tension building up to the elections.
One of the measures by Museveni’s government to throw the opposition off balance, was to arrest several people involved in the campaigns on charges of breaking COVID-19 protocols.
Bobi Wine himself was in November, arrested on charges of breaching COVID-19 measures before later being released. Bobi Wine has also spoken of repeated assassination attempts on him and attacks on members of his camp.
Bobi Wine has since taken to wearing a bullet-proof vest and helmet on the campaign trail, in order to greatly reduce the risk of getting killed while on a campaign rally.
Uganda also recently voted in their parliamentary elections and soon enough, a new result of the presidential elections will be declared. Ugandans are optimistic of a favorable result which would be devoid of ruckus and havoc.
Africa and the rest of the world awaits the new results of the Ugandan presidential elections, which hopefully, will be a landmark in the march towards democracy and equality in Uganda, as well as its neighbors.
By Oluwamayowa Akinyemi
Oluwamayowa Akinyemi is a digital and web content developer with experience in web content development and management as well as research and writing. He is an avid reader of random subject matters and a sucker for movies and video games. He is also passionate about youth empowerment and is a global affairs analyst and enthusiast.