UGANDA FACES POLITICAL UNREST AND ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY - It was thought that when Yoweri Museveni was involved in a war that removed Idi Amin Dada from power in 1979, and then in the rebellion that led to the end of the Milton Obote regime in 1985 that he was the hope of a country that had been ruled with a heavy hand. It wasn’t long after he became President of the country in 1986, that striking similarities became evident between him and the dictators he had ousted.
Take for example Museveni’s Public Order Management Bill that seeks to gag dissenting views, limits the freedom to assemble and censors media coverage coupled with the following quote:
“Whoever tries to cause problems, we finish them. Besigye, an opposition leader, tried to disorganize Kampala and we gave him a little tear gas and he calmed down. He didn’t need a bullet, just a little gas.”
The statement alone, gives the citizens of Uganda a chilling picture at what type of ruler he truly is and proves that he is more about control then managing and building a successful economy for the people of his country. In his 27 years as President there have been many incidents laced with corruption, greed and violations against Human Rights that have led to numerous protests by the public.
Just knowing these few things about the man clarifies the actions of police Monday when confronted by angry protesters in the capitol city of Kampala. The protesters were there making a stand for their mayor Elias Lukwago, who was recently removed from his position because of his criticisms of Museveni and as a result of previous charges brought against him last May that included incompetence, misconduct, and abuse of office.
As the police moved in to break up protesters, they were met with resistance and pelted with rocks. It was then that the decision was made to use tear gas on the crowd to force them into submission. Official statements claim that officers were injured by the protesters, but after the show of police force no further problems are expected.
Hmm, no further problems are expected. That must mean from the protesters, because obviously nothing else has changed. Strong arm tactics were used to impress upon the public the police are in charge and that violators will be punished. Lukwago is not to be re-instated into office, even though he appears to be loved by his people and once again we see the long arm of Museveni at work to keep the masses silent.
For 27 years, Uganda has suffered at the hands of Museveni, who continues to get richer while his people barely make a living. For a country with large amounts of oil, the economy should be flourishing and yet jobs are hard to find, starting a business even harder, and after the recent fire in Kampala’s Owino Marketplace, add feeding your family to the list.
Fire broke out Wednesday in the Owino Marketplace and as you can see from the video above, there was time for a crowd to gather long before the sound of arriving fire rescue. According to official reports, the delay in fire rescue was due to the large crowd filled with onlookers and vendors, who congested the streets and made it difficult for trucks to get to the scene. The situation quickly escalated into riot conditions as upset vendors watched their merchandise and livelihood go up in flames. As a result, police and security forces were brought in to help manage the crowd and resorted to using force, tear gas, and live ammunition.
At present it is believed that at least 80 citizens were treated for injuries including wounds resulting from stones and bullets, the effects of tear gas and minor cuts and bruises.
The marketplace, which has suffered four fires in the last five years, employs more than 20,000 people and serves the city of Kampala. Its destruction puts the city’s economy in further jeopardy and compounds an already stressful situation within the city making it ripe for violence and unexpected outbursts.