Daniel Kalinaki's weblog

A commentary on news and events in Uganda and elsewhere


Just an ordinary bloke.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Reconciliation won't come easy

President Yoweri Museveni tried his hand at statesmanship this last week when he reached out with an olive branch to former president Milton Obote's family and the supporters of his Uganda's People's Congress.

In seeking reconciliation, Museveni sought to put closure on the 20-year running feud he'd had with his erstwhile mentor, Obote and appeal more reasonable and understanding to middle-of-the-road voters ahead of next year's election.

But Museveni and his government's ability to seek genuine reconciliation had already been questioned by the length it took cabinet to allow a state funeral for the former leader (12 hours) and the initial refusal to grant a public holiday for Obote, a few weeks after two different public holidays were granted for former Sudanese VP, John Mabior Garang and Museveni's ill-fated presidential helicopter crew.

Museveni had the chance to rise above the petty politicking when he delivered a speech before parliament as Obote's body lay in state. Unfortunately, he dwelt more on the size of his forces during the 1981-86 guerrila war that brought him to power, than on reaching out to those who, like Obote, Besigye, Mande, Kyakabale, have been critical of his own regime.

While Obote's death brings reconciliation to the debating table, the proof of that particular pudding shall be known by whoever tastes defeat in the March 2006 presidential election. If Museveni, who is expected to win the election, reaches out to the vanquised to ensure that they remain opponents and not enemies, his talk of reconciliation would have the moved beyond rhetoric.

If, however, Museveni wins-all, takes-all and goes after his political opponents, as happened after the 2001 election, the chance of genuinely reconciling our politics and politicians would have been lost, perhaps until the current generation of leaders follows Sir Edward Muteesa, Prof. Godfrey Lule, Tito Okello, Idi Amin and Obote to political dust. ENDS


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