Uganda’s Jan. 14 election was nothing out of the norm. Yoweri Museveni, the country’s president since 1986, won the election against his opponent, Bobi Wine, with 58% of the vote.
The tactics used by Museveni to suppress Wine and his campaign were shocking, but not that different from what he had used against his previous opponents. Museveni’s government shutdown the internet on the day of the election, imprisoned Wine, attacked and killed Wine’s supporters and tried to muzzle Wine. Shocking as this may seem, it’s not out of the norm for Ugandans.
Museveni has proved that his suppression toolbox is full. He went for the “shut the internet” plan to suppress social media’s influence on the elections. He has proven that social media is just another animal of the internet that could never exist without its presence. He has been brutal to his people.
The western press and social media gave false hope that democracy was going to arise. It was false hope indeed. There is nothing in Uganda’s brief history that is democratic. Power has been passed from despot to despot and the recent actions do not give one hope that the future of Uganda will be democratic.
But why would Ugandans choose democracy when Museveni has given them peace and the alternative seems chaotic? Uganda’s location is far from the Mecca of democracies. In fact, two of its neighbors are plagued by civil wars, and Ugandans, more than most, have a reason to like their current peace. Ugandans might have once again chosen peace instead of the democratic rule of Wine. Who knows if it was a bad choice? Or a choice at all?
This submission has been edited for clarity.