The leader of Uganda’s main opposition Forum for Democratic Change says Western countries are partly to blame for the failure of a democratic transition in Africa. Kizza Besigye says the dictatorships that have bedeviled Africa have done so with either the complacence or active support of some Western countries.
Besigye did not name a specific country. But he was reacting to comments by Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gadaffi during a visit to Uganda Monday when Gadaffi criticized Western-style democracy for its emphasis on presidential term limits. Gadaffi called on Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to be president for life as long as Museveni had the support of the Ugandan people.
Besigye told VOA that Ugandans decided that President Museveni should leave office when they established constitutional term limits in 1995 and through three subsequent elections.
“It’s not surprising at all coming from Colonel Gaddafi who himself assumed power through a military coup. But secondly, I think Col. Gaddafi made a qualified statement. He said somebody should stay as long as the people wish. He also recognizes that the will of the people to determine who leads them is vital. It ought to be remembered that the Ugandan people in total unanimity during the constitution making process of 1994-95 decided to establish term limits for the presidency that the president should not lead the country for more than two terms of five years each,” he said.
Besigye said he found it contradictory that on the one hand Western countries would praise Uganda as a beacon of hope for democracy while on the other hand Gadaffi would criticize western-style democracy.
Besigye accused the West of double standard when it comes to democracy in Uganda.
“First of all the Western countries, I think, it ought to be really emphasized that they have been part of the problem of failure to a democratic transition in Africa because the dictatorships that have bedeviled Africa have indeed done so with either the complacence or active support from Western countries. In fact that statement you are talking about of being the beacon of hope for African democracy, at the time it was made, political parties were banned in Uganda. So the Western countries you are talking about are at the very least extremely exercising double standards,” Besigye said.
President Museveni said last week that Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels would not have to go before the International Criminal Court to face indictments for war crimes allegedly committed during the over 20 year-old civil war in northern Uganda.
Besigye welcomed the possibility that the Ugandan government and the LRA could sign a final peace deal by the end of this month. But he said he was not too optimistic.
“Well, it’s a very welcome development that this negotiation between the LRA and the government of Uganda has made tremendous progress toward the final agreement that will lead to the end of the war. However, I remain worried because first of all the whole discussion in Juba (Southern Sudan) did not seek to address the cause of that war,” Besigye said.