IN OTHER WORDS: Africa’s curse
The election won by the Ugandan president last week was conducted fairly, but that doesn’t make the vote a victory for democracy. Yoweri Museveni has led Uganda for 20 years. Honest, effective governance rarely lasts two decades, and the corruption of his tenure was demonstrated by his campaign tactics.
Museveni enjoyed access to government resources, including helicopters and state-owned news media, for electioneering. Kizza Besigye, his main opponent, spent much of the campaign in jail, fighting accusations of treason and rape, which diplomats said were politically motivated.
Museveni came to power via a military revolt in 1986. He was elected president for the first time a decade later and eliminated the two-term limit in the constitution to make sure he could run again. His conduct was typical of many African leaders, who whether they gain power through the ballot or force, strive to keep it as long as possible.
Museveni is best known for bringing improved governance after two execrable dictatorships and for acting to contain the AIDS epidemic. But these were achievements of the ‘80s and ‘90s. After that, his most notable action was joining in the looting of Congo after Mobutu’s ouster in 1996. No president is irreplaceable, and democracy thrives when the powers are freely transferred.