A new survey in Uganda shows decreasing public confidence in the country's democratic institutions and rising dissatisfaction with the country's leadership. Fewer than half the respondents said they planned to vote for President Yoweri Museveni in the next elections.
According to the survey, conducted from July to October of 2008, as part of the Afrobarometer project on African public opinion, only 41 percent of respondents said they would vote to re-elect Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
President Museveni has won three consecutive elections, but his portion of the vote has steadily declined, from 75 percent in 1996 to 59 percent in the most recent 2006 election. The survey also found that public trust in the president has dropped from 78 percent in 2005 to 56 percent.
Director Robert Sentamu, of Wilsken Agencies, which carried out the survey, says the government has taken note of the findings as it looks ahead to the next elections, scheduled for early 2011.
"We have presented these results to both the government and opposition parties. For the government the reaction that I can say is that this was a wake up call. They did not know there was widespread dissatisfaction among the people across the board in almost everything. They are saying the government is not handling their most important problems," he said.
But Uganda's opposition may have trouble capitalizing on the frustration with the government. Only 21 percent of respondents said they planned to vote for the most prominent opposition leader Kizza Besigye, significantly less than his 37 percent showing in the 2006 elections.
Besigye who leads the Forum For Democratic Change, an opposition coalition, on Saturday criticized another opposition party, the Uganda People's Congress for its plans to pull out of the coalition, saying divisions have hampered opposition movement's success.
A more telling indication of Ugandan political opinion may be the decline in confidence in the county's democratic institutions. "There is decreasing evaluation of the extent of democracy in Uganda. There are more people saying Uganda is not a democracy. There is also increasing dissatisfaction with the working of democracy, and then declining satisfaction with the quality of elections, and also declining trust in the confidence or trust in political institutions in Uganda," said Sentamu.
The portion of respondents saying that elections work well in ensuring parliament reflects the views of voters dropped from 66 percent in 2005 to 45 percent. Public confidence in the ability to remove leaders through elections saw a similar decline.
These figures likely reflect the experience of the 2006 elections, when opposition parties claimed they were intimidated by the government. Besigye was arrested shortly before the elections on charges of treason and rape. Besigye was released and acquitted of the rape charge, but the treason case remains open.