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Uganda’s 2016 Elections: Another Setback for Democracy in Africa

Ugandan people cast their votes, Feb 2016, courtesy The Commonwealth/flickr

This article was originally published by the IPI Global Observatory on 24 February 2016.

Last week saw the most competitive elections in the history of Uganda. Several prominent ministers and key members of the ruling party were voted out—approximately 19 ministers lost elections, including Crispus Kiyonga, who is playing a key role in the Burundi Peace process.

The Electoral Commission declared incumbent Yoweri Museveni as the winner of the presidential election, with 60.7% (5,617,593 votes). Kizza Besigye came second with 35.37% (3,270,290 votes) and Amama Mbabazi third with 1.43% (132,573 votes) in a race that had eight candidates. President Museveni, who assumed office in 1986, is now one of Africa’s longest serving presidents, along with Angola’s Jose Eduardo Dos Santos (since 1979), Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang (since 1979), Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe (since 1980) and Cameroon’s Paul Biya (since 1982). The 71-year-old has run the country for the last thirty years.

The shutdown of social media was widely reported in the international press and put a dark cloud over the elections, during which Kampala was heavily patrolled by military and police. “Calm,” “silence,” and uncertainty hung over Kampala and the country amid the announcement of President Museveni’s victory. There have been no victory jubilations for the last two days. The Kenyan and Russian presidents were the first to congratulate Uganda, and now Kizza Besigye remains under house arrest.

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A Legal Precipice? The DPRK-Uganda Security Relationship

Traditional craft of the Ugandan flag. Image: Flickr

This article was originally published by 38 North on 13 November, 2014.

Uganda and North Korea are two countries which few would immediately identify as natural partners. Yet on October 29, 2014, Kim Yong Nam, Chairman of the Presidium of the DPRK’s Supreme People’s Assembly, arrived in Kampala to a hero’s welcome. Over four days, Kim met with the Ugandan President, Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister amongst others, and had a state banquet thrown in his honor.

Kim’s visit comes as part of a longer African tour to the handful of countries on the continent where the DPRK still has a noteworthy foothold. Many of them are known or suspected to be long-time military customers, and bolstering ties will have been on the agenda for each stop. The reported purpose of the Uganda visit was to enhance security cooperation specifically. As noted by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, bilateral relations in this area have spanned decades. Military training and weapons transfers were facilitated by Pyongyang during the Cold War. Today, Kampala has made a conscious effort to publicly discuss the more benign nature of cooperation with Pyongyang, making sure to add that, while it has nothing to hide, Uganda’s foreign relations are no one’s business. Venturing close to the grey areas of sanctions-relevant activity, DPRK-Uganda cooperation nevertheless merits further scrutiny. » More

The Elusive Quest for Peace with the M23 in the DRC

M23 troops in Bunagana. Photo: Al Jazeera/Wikimedia Commons

The current conflict in the Kivu Region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) threatens to linger on despite an international effort to broker a truce between the M23 rebellion and the Congolese government. The 2012 version of this conflict is difficult to grasp, particularly because the M23 is a shifting armed movement, both geographically and politically. Its leadership is interchangeable among commanders, and the movement is supported by foreign influences with an eye on the geological riches of the region.

The evolution of the M23 Rebellion

Who exactly are the M23 rebels? This is the question the Rift Valley Institute’s Usamala Project tries to unpack in its recent report “From CNDP to M23: The evolution of an armed movement in Eastern Congo” (PDF). While the armed branch of the rebellion is easy to define, its political leadership is more elusive. The report explains further: » More

LRA Commander, Caesar Achellam, “Captured” – Some (Mostly Skeptical) Thoughts

Ugandan army in Soroti, Uganda, April 2011
In what has generally been reported as a “major coup” for African Union forces – and by extension the KONY2012 faithful – a senior LRA commander, Caesar Achellam was detained over the weekend while crossing the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

While the Ugandan army (the UPDF) were quick to exclaim that they had captured a “big fish” and many reported that Achellam’s arrest marked a huge victory in the hunt for Kony, there are good reasons to be skeptical of these claims.

Who is Caesar Achellam?

Achellam is a senior commander in the LRA. He was, at least as of 2008, a Major General. It was reported that he was close to Vincent Otti, the LRA’s second in command who was executed in 2008, on orders from Kony, for having been too deeply involved in efforts to resolve the ongoing conflict. Many of those who were close to Otti feared for their lives and Achellam apparently sought to surrender himself. While it is unclear how, he clearly regained the trust of Kony, rising to a prominent position in the LRA. Some say that, at the time of his “capture”, he was the fourth most senior commander in the LRA, perhaps even the LRA’s most senior strategist. Despite his seniority, however, Achellam is not amongst those LRA combatants indicted by the ICC. » More

Will Local Content Policies Help Africa Avoid the Oil Curse?

Tullow oil camp, Uganda. Image by Conservation Concepts on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Tullow oil camp, Uganda. Image by Conservation Concepts on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

In recent years, major reserves of oil have been discovered at various locations across Africa. If this ‘black gold’ represents an opportunity for economic growth, the fear that the windfall may not benefit the local populations – and maybe even become a curse – is shared by Sub-Saharan African citizens and experts alike.

In 2009 Modern Ghana’s Nana Adjoa Hackmansuggested a 2009 possible solution:

“It is common practice for oil and gas producing countries to negotiate local content agreements with interested IOCs [International Oil Companies] in an attempt to secure for the country a higher share of the value from oil and gas projects. This trend has surfaced as a result of the realization of the poor economic performance of many resource rich countries despite their vast wealth.” » More

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