Speech by Kenyan Senator Prof. Anyang Nyongo to Kenyan Parliament on Uganda’s 2016 General Elections.
Date: 29 Feb 2016.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I had earlier sought leave of the House under Standing Order No.45(2)(a) to make a statement and bring the attention of the House to a matter that concerns us as Kenyans, Africans and East Africans.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, last week general and presidential elections were held in Uganda. The outcome of the presidential election has been very problematic. This is the first time in an African country where an election is held and there is no celebration of victory anywhere.
If anything the victory rally that President Museveni had planned in Kampala had to be cancelled because of tremendous discontent of the Ugandan people on the conduct of the election, the degree of freeness and fairness and the interference by the State in the democratic process to subvert democracy and deny the people of Uganda the freedom to choose their leaders without fear or hindrance.
We sit on a precipice of disaster. Like it happened in the 1970s, we may sooner than later, have to accommodate our Ugandan sisters and brothers in Kenya because of insecurity in their country. It is, therefore, we, as Kenyans, to become seized what is going on and get ready to defend democracy, not just in our nation, but everywhere in the world.
There is already international pressure going on and statements being made by peace lovers and democratization forces the world over, calling the attention of the world to the lack of democracy in Uganda. His Excellency President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Group to the 2016 General Elections in Uganda has already made it clear that nobody who believes in sanctity of democracy can put a stamp of approval on that election.
The European Union (EU) made a similar statement, calling the attention of the world to the fact that the just concluded elections in Uganda, particularly the presidential elections were rigged, hollow and a sham.
Although the African Union (AU) and the regional group in the Great Lakes Region timidly approved of these elections as free and fair, we, a country, that is so proud of our 2010 Constitution that proclaims the universality of democracy and the equality of all men and women in this world and the right of every person to choose a Government of his own choice, is something that we must stand tall as Kenya and be counted among those who are rejecting the so-called democratic elections in Uganda.
The elections are only democratic in so far as President Yoweri Museveni is concerned. President Museveni himself is on record as saying that nobody should teach him about democracy. This is the kind of arrogance of the big man in Africa that should have been left behind.
In the African scene, in the early 2000s when I was Minister for Planning and National Development, most African countries, indeed, all members of the AU, signed themselves to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). The reason we aceded the APRM was because of the importance we attach to democracy in the new surge for good governance in our continent which is really needed for development. Since then every African country which signed up to the APRM has been reviewed by their peers, including Uganda. If you read the report by the APRM, there is no doubt in my mind that all those reports, including the one on Kenya, lays emphasis to importance of free and fair elections in order that we will nurture democracy in our nations.
These reports also say that there is a very close correlation between good governance and development. African countries that have performed well in terms of development are those which respect good governance. We are saying this is not to be paternalistic to the Ugandan people, but because we want to be brotherly to our Ugandan brothers and sisters.
Something we share in common should not be sacrificed at the alter ego of dictatorship or big man syndrome. It is important too that we recognize the roles that certain countries have played in this continent to advise advanced democracy.
The recent elections in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Botswana and the pending election in South Africa make us proud. Since there are nations and Governments in Africa which have stood tall to defend and promote democracy, there is no need why in our region any Government should fall behind in the promotion and defense of democracy.
We, as members of the East African Community, should be brave enough to know too that in the East African Community there are standards of good governance that we have committed ourselves to and we should not allow any of our members to depart from.
I brought this statement to the House because, at the moment, the rest of the world may judge us harshly if, indeed, what goes on in Uganda is allowed to continue and degenerates into blood that we have never seen before.
At the moment, the social media is filled with so many atrocities that have already been committed as a result of the fact that the people are resisting the rigging of the elections. However, the State is perpetuating its own repression on the people so that they may not speak.
It was diabolical for the Government of Uganda to shut down social media during these elections. We know the role that social media has played to awaken the African people to the reality of democracy. Freedom of expression and communication is enhanced by the social media. At times, I agree social media goes overboard, but nations and governments should establish rules and regulations to deal with this. However, taking drastic action of shutting down a major avenue of communication among the Ugandan people and between the Ugandan people and the world at large is undemocratic.
Further, arresting a leader of the opposition and stopping Mr. Besigye from going to the Electoral Commission to seek for results of an election shows very clearly that the victor is not the victor.
The victor has become the victim of his own imagination that he is the victor. These are issues that may visit us in this country. We, as Kenyans, must stand tall and resist that kind of development. I call upon the Government of Uganda to respect the democratic rights of her own people.
I call upon the people of East Africa to respect the democratic rights of the people of Uganda. I call upon the International Community to come in solidarity with the people of Uganda. I call upon the United Nations Organization (UNO) whose charter was based on the freedom of all mankind, to come out boldly and tell the world that this is a member of the UNO which has abrogated the charter of the UNO.
I call upon the AU not to be timid, but to stand with nations who love democracy the world over to denounce what is happening in Uganda. I call upon the East African Community right here at home to do the same. This Senate composes of men and women who have struggled for democracy and who know that democracy must be upheld in every nation. The Senate has distinguished itself to speak the truth and stand for the truth.
I call upon this nation to lead the world in condemning what is going on in Uganda, in calling upon Ugandans to be strong enough to resist the creeping nature of a dictatorial regime that was going to be thrown away by a free and fair election. We, lovers of peace and democracy, will stand with them.