As the controversial Tanzanian elections concluded with President John Magufuli's inauguration on Thursday, the spotlight shifts to Uganda.
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who is extending his rule to four decades, was Monday nominated by the National Resistance Movement do defend his seat on January 14, 2021.
Museveni is expected to face nine challengers in the presidential race, among them opposition MP Robert Kyagulanyi alias Bobi Wine (National Unity Platform), former Security minister Henry Tumukunde (Independent) and former army commander Mugisha Muntu (Alliance for National Transformation).
Others are Nancy Linda Kalembe (Independent), Patrick Oboi Amuriat of Forum for Democratic Change and Willy Mayambala (Independent)
Independent hopeful John Katumba’s bid was not approved after he failed to show proof of payment of nomination fees.
As was the case with Tanzanian polls, there are already cases of intimidation and threats.
Bobi Wine, for instance, was arrested minutes after his nomination was accepted.
Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba the senior presidential adviser for Special Operations tweeted after the arrest:
"I told you my young brother, that you can NEVER intimidate us. We are much stronger than you can ever imagine to be. If you want to fight we will simply defeat you. We want peace! But if you attempt to fight us then Bring it on!" Kainerugaba is President Museveni's son.
In an undated video making the rounds on social media, a UPDF commander swears they will not hand over power to "ideologically drunkard people”.
“In fact, we are consolidating," Brig Deus Sande, the commandant of the UPDF’s Armoured Warfare Training School, says.
Reacting to the statement, Makerere University political history lecturer Mwambutsya Ndebesa told Ugandans to take seriously the army's remarks alluding to a power grab.
“That is not a light statement and we should not underestimate them. First of all, the army legally speaking, are not supposed to make such a statement because they are supposed to be non-partisan. For politicians that is treasonable."
"Legal aspects notwithstanding, it implies the country is facing a very serious risk. I don’t think this is the attitude of securing our future,” Ndebesa told The Independent, Uganda.
Bobi Wine, who is seen as Museveni’s main challenger, on October 29 said security forces raided his party’s office in Jinja.
“In Lugazi, our supporters were charged for selling and putting on our signature red berets! The atmosphere of intimidation continues to grow but we, too, are growing stronger! The people shall prevail,” he said on Twitter.
The Daily Monitor on Friday reported that administrators in Mbarara district, South Western Uganda, warned that civil servants who do not support NRM should resign or be sacked.
“The district chairperson, Capt (Rtd) Tumusiime Bamuturaki and the Resident District Commissioner, Lt Col James Mwesigye, told civil servants during the budget conference on Wednesday that they have no choice but to support the NRM party,” the paper said.
In Tanzania, opposition leaders were prior, during and after voting arrested and released without any charges, drawing criticism from the West and observer missions. The same scenario is evident in Uganda two months to the election.
In 2018, the forum for East Africa Civil Society Organisations accused EAC partner states of going against the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance due to shrinking democratic spaces in the countries.
Some of the challenges facing the region include constitutional manipulation to prolong the tenure of incumbents, shrinking political and civic spaces, low participation of citizens in democratic governance processes, refusal to accept election results and violations of human rights.
This article was published by The Star.