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It is time for African leaders to walk the talk on democracy

By Editorial | January 21st 2021 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Days after Yoweri Museveni was declared winner of the Ugandan presidential election, the US has called for independent investigations into allegations of irregularities during the poll.

The State Department called for individuals responsible for any electoral malpractice to be held accountable. It also condemned the violence meted out by the security forces ahead of the election and the ongoing harassment of political candidates, key among them Museveni’s strongest opponent Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine.

At the same time, the State Department imposed visa restrictions on an unspecified number of Tanzanian officials for reportedly undermining last year’s elections.

Ironically, these decisions were taken in the dying days of President Donald Trump’s administration, a man who clearly lacks the moral authority to speak about democratic elections due to his unbecoming conduct during the US presidential poll, which he lost.

But nevertheless, his assault on democracy has not in any way devalued democracy; liberal democracy remains the best system of government the world over. That’s why despite the fiasco at home, the State Department still has the guts to crack the whip on Tanzania and threaten action in Uganda.

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That’s something that African countries have not done and are unlikely to do any time soon. Despite obvious subversion of democracy during elections in the two countries, African leaders have chosen to clamp their lips tightly together.

In Uganda, violence perpetrated by security agencies reportedly left 60 people dead during the campaigns. There have also been widespread arrest and intimidation of opposition officials and journalists. Currently, Wine is under house arrest. In Tanzania, some opposition leaders had to flee the country due to intimidation and threats.

Unfortunately, no African country or leader has found it befitting to condemn these audacious affronts on democracy. They see and hear no evil.

But it is understandable why they choose to mind their own business. Most have skeletons in their democratic closets. Although they profess their love for democracy, most, including Kenya, have had their ‘Uganda (or even worse) moments’. That’s why they choose to ‘do unto others as they would have it done unto them’.

But that conspiracy of silence is doing no good to democracy in Africa. If they really believe in democracy, African leaders must start to call out their peers who trample on democratic values. Congratulating them after elections that were anything but free and fair can only be an insult to democracy.


Yoweri Museveni African leaders Democracy
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