Why we wont fight fire with fire in this election

By Eric Kashambuzi

Everywhere in time and space fire fighters use water to extinguish fire: they never use fire to put out fire. In this Uganda election, we are going to be creative and defeat so-called democracy that has been conducted at gun point since 1996.

When the United Democratic Ugandans (UDU) was formed in 2011, it was resolved that we should unseat the dictatorial regime of Museveni by using non-violent defiance in the first instance, drawing on lessons from other countries and making adaptations as appropriate. There is concrete evidence that non-violent dissent is more successful than armed struggle in defeating dictatorial regimes.

In November 2013, Ugandans from home and the Diaspora met at The Hague in the Netherlands to build on the decision and experiences of UDU and to agree on the way forward. It was reiterated to use non-violent defiance in unseating the dictatorial regime in Uganda and establish a transitional government based on the principle of national unity that Besigye and Biraaro presidential candidates have adopted. The outcome of the meeting was the creation of The Hague Process for Peace, Security and Development in Uganda (THP). It was constructed on the UDU foundation. In designing The Hague Process of defiance that underpins FDC philosophy we drew on a wide range of sources including the fight between David and Goliath and the Filipino defiance against Marcos in 1986. The story of David and Goliath shows that the size and sophistication of weapons do not necessarily determine the outcome of the battle. Physically underpowered David, a teenage herd boy with a sling and five stones, confronted Goliath, 10ft tall, in heavy armour that consisted of a helmet, long coat, and leg guards made from bronze and a long bronze spear. David, standing at a convenient and strategic spot shot his first stone into the forehead of Goliath and toppled the giant to the ground. He then used Goliath’s sword and chopped off his his head. David possessed courage, confidence, determination and wisdom. Goliath’s weight and strength didn’t save him. That is the first lesson.

The second lesson is drawn from the Philippines. In 1986 Ferdinand Marcos, then president of the Philippines, stole an election. The Filipino people resolved to stop his inauguration ceremony. Cardinal Jaime Sin, a Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila, the capital city, mobilized the people that included former supporters of Marcos who feared for loss of their lives and properties. They gathered in the city where they were joined by the minister of defense and the deputy army commander and their military followers. Equipped with rosaries, flowers and prayers, the Filipino formed a human chain around the soldiers who had joined them. When troops that had been dispatched by Marcos to disperse the demonstrators arrived, they were welcomed to join in the silent revolution and presented with flowers. The soldiers paused, reflected, disobeyed their Commander–in–Chief and returned to the barracks. Marcos got the message, took off and spent the balance of his life in exile. People Power and Prayer Power prevailed over Marcos’s money and soldiers. The Filipino ended Marcos dictatorship in a bloodless revolution.

Can Ugandans apply the same defiant and simple methods and defeat Dictator Museveni with all the money and soldiers he has? Yes, they can and they have already begun doing so. When opposition members were arrested and detained at a police station in Rukungiri town, the fearless people of Rukungiri district marched unarmed to the station and got the detainees released. When police officers blocked Besigye from visiting an internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp, Besigye supporters defied the obstruction non-violently. The police gave way and Besigye visited the camp. Ipso facto, The Hague Process of defiance, not compliance, is working in Uganda. It should be consolidated and refined to restore and preserve democracy, civil and political rights and freedoms and the rule of law.

Prof Eric Kashambuzi is Secretary-General of the United Democratic Ugandans (UDU), Co-founder of The Hague Process for Peace, Security and Development in Uganda (THP). A columnist with The London Evening Post and New York-based Black Star News as well as a consultant on politics and economics, Prof Kashambuzi and his family are based in New York. NY

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