By Eric Brown
When American president Barack Obama visited Ghana in July this year, it was an excellent choice for an African country that should be a model for most African countries; particularly countries in the great lakes region of Africa that include Burundi, DR Congo, Rwanda, and Uganda. President Obama stressed the need for Africans to build strong institutions instead of strong men and urged Africans to embrace the democratic process that Ghana and only a handful others in Africa have successfully achieved. His speech brought hope to the downtrodden, victims of violence, and many more who suffer as a result of the so called African leaders who continue to pursue power at all cost and stop at nothing to take total power or to remain in power.
The speech however was not taken in the same light by a minority of Africans. This speech was in fact a major insult to most of Africa’s presidents and governments. President Obama called out those who extend presidential terms to remain in power. This was right in the backyard of Uganda’s Museveni who has modified Uganda’s constitution to remain in power. It must have also hurt those who were unsuccessful at achieving this feat such as Zambia’s ex-president Chiluba. Obama also hit out at those who use violence as a means to achieve power. This also must have hurt virtually every president in the above mentioned countries of the Great Lakes of Africa except for the Burundian president.
Yoweri K. Museveni came to power through a violent war having lost elections in Uganda in1980. He won the war in 1986 and has now been the autocratic president of Uganda for the last 23 years. He then sponsored Paul Kagame of Rwanda to wage a 4 year deadly war that culminated in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and Rwanda has been under Kagame’s dictatorship for the last 15 years. At the end of the 4 year Rwandan war, over a million and a half people had been killed and 3 million people fled the country to then Zaire. It did not stop there. In 1996, the two friends Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame joined forces and invaded then Zaire and toppled Mobutu. Since the beginning of that war in 1996, there have been 6 million Congolese killed, thousands of women raped, and thousands of child soldiers recruited by factions supported by the two “presidents”. When Mobutu was toppled in 1997, Museveni and Kagame installed Laurent Kabila who was assassinated and replaced by his son; the current incompetent president of the DR Congo. When Obama talked about those who use violence to achieve power and maintain power, it definitely hit home in the countries that make up the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
After the speech, it was time for a response. Museveni, the mentor for Rwanda’s and DR Congo’s presidents chose to speak and prove his foolishness instead of remaining silent and keeping everyone guessing. However, this was no surprise as Museveni prides himself in self aggrandizing and inflammatory speeches. He offered to teach Obama democracy. This was a laughable proposition at its best. A president who forced himself onto the people and made Ugandans, Rwandans and Congolese hopeless for a true government thinks he can teach democracy to Obama who was democratically elected on the premise of hope and change. This is the same Museveni who had vans driven into crowds gathered in support of his opponents ahead of elections. It is the same Museveni who said there is no point organizing elections and losing them (hint hint). It is the same Museveni who runs a one party state similar to the communist countries who is proposing to teach Obama democracy. In contrast to Museveni who had vans driven into crowds, Obama asked his team security to allow hecklers during his speech to remain in the room.
The irony in Museveni’s claim that he will teach Obama democracy is that there has never been a time during Museveni’s rule that he allowed the process to determine the outcome when it comes to governance in Uganda while currently Obama is struggling to get a health care bill passed and is going through the full process. Had it been Museveni, the bill would have been passed and everyone coerced to sign it. Those who refused to sign would have ended up fired and jailed. Is this the democracy Museveni wants to teach Obama? Obama works through consensus and is trying to unite the American public along political lines, though he has not succeeded at this. Museveni on the other hand has spent 2 decades and more of his rule terrorizing the Karamojong and discriminating against the Luo’s as well as other northern Ugandan tribes including the Luos. Ironically, Obama’s father was a Luo from Kenya; the same Luo’s Museveni recently insulted when he tried to prevent them from fishing inside their own country of Kenya.
While it’s true that Obama inherited wars from the previous administration and has continued to command over these wars, he has not invaded any country. He is viewed around the world as a peacemaker rather than a warmonger. The same cannot be said of Museveni. Museveni has invaded every country bordering Uganda except for Tanzania during his rule. Museveni along with Kagame provoked what is known as Africa’s world war in the DR Congo that has claimed 6 million innocent lives. They are the definition of warmongers if there ever was a perfect definition of the word. Is this the person the world wants teaching the American president democracy? Does the world want a warmonger teaching a president of hope and peace the dictator’s version of democracy? As a citizen of the USA and a world citizen, I believe millions and possibly billions would agree with me and say to dictator Yoweri Museveni ”Thank you Mr. repressive Museveni for your cynical offer but NO THANK YOU.” The world is better of without Museveni and his ilk. To think that he wants to teach the leader of the modern world democracy is terrifying. His previous student running Rwanda right now is proof of what to expect from Museveni’s lessons and it is a total disaster for human beings. Museveni’s democracy means reign of terror.