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EDITORIAL

What Museveni victory means for Kenya

Is Re-elected old President a threat for democracy?

18-01-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo

During the pandemic year, Kenya's two big 'neighbours', who in fact make up 90% of the East African Community, faced general elections.
Tanzania and Uganda not only called their citizens to the polls, but gave a clear direction to the near future of both countries, choosing continuity and strengthening the power of their leaders, to the detriment of democracy and freedom of expression.
On the other hand, the inevitable accusations of fraud were matched by such high percentages of preference for the two re-elected presidents and victories by a clear margin that no doubts were raised either by the population or by international observers.
If anything happened, it was before the vote.
We have already spoken about the confirmation of President John Magufuli in Tanzania, the man who declared his country "Covid Free".
Magufuli has never forced his people to wear masks or keep their social distance in a country where deaths in 2020 are no higher than in the previous year and hospitals are not full, and the fact that he has not closed the country or blocked the economy is one of the reasons for his re-election. The other reason smacks of dictatorship: restriction of social networks, intimidation of the press, "police" methods and obstruction of the opposition's election campaign.
This modus operandi also characterised the last year of government of the undisputed leader of Ugandan politics, President Yoweri Museveni, who at the age of 76 and in defiance of the constitution he had already changed 20 years ago, was re-elected for the seventh consecutive time.
Since 1986, Uganda has had a master father who is 'forced' each time to throw the emerging opponents into jail and demotivate all the others.
So much so that if it had not been for a young and courageous rapper and civil rights activist, Robert Kyagulanyi, better known by his stage name Bobi Wine, there would have been no opposition at all. The singer, who has been arrested four times in the last two years and forced into months of exile, received only 13% of the votes, especially from the young and very young, and Uganda's problems remain those of tribal wars in the northern regions and great poverty and backwardness in the rural areas.
What changes for Kenya and its approach to the 2022 elections, with the strengthening of leadership in the two neighbouring countries and Africa's main partners in trade and day-to-day cross-border relations?
Undoubtedly for Kenya, Museveni's re-election represents continuity, especially in the area of trade. Uganda is not only Kenya's most important economic ally, but is also the largest buyer of Kenyan goods.
An economic report covering 2019, shows that Kenya exported goods worth Kes. 64.1 billion to Uganda the previous year, which is almost half the value of Kenya's exports to other East African states.
For Kenya, according to political columnists at the national daily Daily Nation, it is not just about trade, as Museveni could be a major player behind the scenes in President Uhuru Kenyatta's succession campaign.
In fact, it is well known that Kenya's Vice President William Ruto has very good relations with Museveni and has helped him in the past in election campaigns and by 'softening' sensitive situations in border areas.
On the other hand, relations between the Ugandan leader and his almost contemporary Raila Odinga have never been idyllic. So the alliance in the name of peace and anti-tribalism between Odinga and Kenyatta could favour Ruto even more.
Museveni's re-election, according to the Daily Nation, means maintaining the status quo in East Africa. Internally, the repression of opposition leaders and those who oppose his rule is likely to continue.
According to representatives of human rights organisations and Kenyan political analysts, the elder Museveni's victory, following that of Magufuli in Tanzania, is a sign of the decline of democracy in East Africa, a decline that the alliance between Kenyatta and Odinga may not put an end to, The alliance between Kenyatta and Odinga may not put an end to this decline, but it could represent a middle way, rejecting the idea of a dictatorship with an inter-ethnic oligarchy that would keep the peace and continue Uhuru's discourse on the country's development, even if the ever-increasing public debt and the constant search for Chinese or American footholds do not bode well from an economic point of view.

TAGS: museveni kenyapresidente kenyaelezioni kenyauganda kenya

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