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Waiting for Museveni to tell supporters, ‘I can’t’

As outgoing United States President Barack Obama started his farewell speech in Chicago on Tuesday, the crowd interrupted him with chants of “four more years, four more years...”

His response was, “I can’t do it.”

After eight years in the White House, Obama is still loved by many Americans and could arguably have won a third term had he been eligible to stand for elections. However, according to the American constitution, he can’t do it.

Perhaps if he had been at the helm of an African country, he would have been led by supporters to seriously consider amending the constitution to make it possible for him to stay on, as witnessed at home in 2005, in Rwanda in 2016, in Burundi 2015, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo today.

In Gambia, incumbent president Yahya Jammeh was defeated in elections held last month, but he is still trying to cling on against the wishes of the Gambian people.

To be fair, not every African country is a member of this infamous club. Ghana last weekend unveiled a new leader in Nana Akufo-Addo who defeated incumbent John Dramani Mahama.

Nearer home, Tanzania bestowed on the East African region its newest leader in John Pombe Magufuli a little over a year ago, replacing Jakaya Kikwete who retired after 10 years.

Exactly four years from now, Uganda will be holding elections that the incumbent Yoweri Museveni, who will have ruled for 35 years, will not be eligible to stand for.

It is an opportunity for this country, which has never seen a peaceful change of power, to do what it failed to do in 2005 – to stand by its constitution just as the Americans, Ghanaians and Tanzanians have done, even if that means letting go of a leader that still enjoys significant support.

Good Ugandans expect that when the time comes, President Museveni will have the courage to look in the face of his supporters who will inevitably be chanting “five more years, five more years”, and say to them, “I can’t do it”.

  • Written by Editorial