To nobody’s surprise, the Ugandan electoral commission has declared Yoweri Museveni the victor in the past weekend’s presidential elections with sixty-eight percent of the vote. I have already written about Museveni’s apparently successful efforts to suppress text messaging in the run-up to the elections. The chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group, former Barbados Foreign Minister Billie Miller, publicly commented on the “lack of a level playing field” and Museveni’s “abuse of the incumbency.” To me, her remarks are more forthright than we usually anticipate from the chair of a Commonwealth Observer Group on elections in a fellow member state. On the other hand, South African president Jacob Zuma has already publicly congratulated Museveni and other African states are likely to fall into line.
Museveni, president since 1986, looks set to become a president-for-life. It remains to be seen whether there will be Ugandan echoes of the popular calls for democracy in North Africa and the Middle East. Uganda has little similarity to Tunisia or Egypt. But Museveni’s dominance recalls that of Ben Ali or Mubarak.