Kigali Grenade Attack

Soon after reaching Kampala last night I heard of another grenade attack in Kigali, apparently near the bus park from which I had left that morning. The BBC reports the attack injured 7 people, and that three people have just been arrested in connection with the explosion. Josh Kron of the NYT also reports here.

Thankfully the explosion appears to have been small and casualties few; there were many opportunities for far greater damage to be done amongst the huge crowds that turned up at RPF campaign and post-election rallies, which fortunately did not take place.

President (re)elect Paul Kagame

Preliminary election results announced by Rwanda’s National Electoral Commission put Kagame’s win at about 92.9% of the vote, followed by Dr. Damascene Ntawukuriryayo (PSD) with 4.9%, Prosper Higiro (PL) with 1.5% and Dr. Alvera Mukabaramba with 0.7%. In the diaspora, he won nearly 97% of the vote, reports the New Times today.

This result was entirely anticipated by all, but I’m sure Kagame is happy to have the election behind him nonetheless. After serving his second seven year term, the next presidential election will be held in 2017. There is much speculation as to whether he will go the way of Museveni and others in massaging the constitution to accommodate for an extended state house stay. I do not think he will. In a recent Economist article, Kagame was quoted as saying, “I would be very happy for a woman to succeed me,” — and I think he means it. I can definitely see a female president (not, however, Ingabire) in Rwanda’s future.

For more on this, live and from the president (re)elect himself, tune in to 89.7 Contact FM tonight at 7pm, where President Kagame is scheduled to be the guest tonight, hosted by  journalist Andrew Mwenda of Uganda’s Independent magazine.

Kagame on the Campaign Trail

Kagame rally in Kigali, August 6, 2010

Campaign rally for incumbent president Paul Kagame yesterday in Kigali. Presidential elections will be held on Monday in Rwanda, though the outcome is already quite clear.

Kagame's final rally, August 7, 2010

A young man displays the RPF manifesto on his chest at Saturday's rally

Touching a raw nerve

In yesterday’s Sunday Monitor Angelo Izama wrote of widespread concern regarding the potential for electoral violence leading up to the 2011 Uganda national elections. He writes:

“In several interviews including with donor sources Sunday Monitor has confirmed that there are serious concerns about the militarisation of Ugandan society ahead of the next elections. In particular, are the military training course tailored for village level officials allied to the NRM and the issuing of military fatigues and guns to them.”

But exposing the campaign of militarisation of NRM supporters, or “election watchers”, clearly touched a raw nerve in Museveni who immediately phoned the Monitor protesting the article and spoke out publicly in Gulu, saying:

“These people of Monitor, I am going to deal with them if they don’t change their ways,” Mr Museveni later said yesterday afternoon in Gulu while officiating at the consecration of Rt. Rev. Johnson Gakumba as the seventh bishop of the Northern Uganda Anglican Diocese. “They want to scare away investors by such reporting,” Mr Museveni said.

Militarisation of the public + media crackdown = bumpy road ahead. Still, it’s not too late to prevent election violence. And it begins with exposing raw nerves.

Olara Otunnu on the way

Dr. Olara Otunnu, former UN Under-Secretary General and Special Representative forOLARA.jpg Children and Armed Conflict, will be on his way back to his native Uganda soon. This is causing quite a stir in political circles, especially with talk of Dr. Otunnu, a northerner with longstanding ties to UPC, making a bid for the presidency in the 2011 elections. Below is an interview with Dr. Otunnu by Angelo Izama from yesterday’s Sunday Monitor:

Are you planning to come back?
It is indeed my intention to come home sometime soon.

What has motivated you to return?
Uganda is my home. One does not need any special motivation to return to one’s home. I will come back as a citizen, a son of the soil returning home. I must stress that my homecoming will bear no political labels or affiliation. It will be a completely non-partisan event, simply a much-longed-for homecoming. Continue reading “Olara Otunnu on the way”

Afrobarometer shows waning faith in NRM

Afrobarometer recently released the findings from it’s 2008 Round 4 Survey of Uganda. There were a number of interesting results. Among the most interesting to me were those on trust in government institutions, a major increase in support for presidential term limits since 2005, and the lack of NRM support in urban areas.

Museveni not likely to win clear majority in 2011 elections” was the Daily Monitor’s headline for a special report on the poll.

Trust in government institutions fell since the 2005 Afrobarometer survey across the board — 20 percentage points or more for the president, the ruling party, the courts, the police and the electoral commission. Trust in the opposition party increased slightly, but was also was the least “trusted” to begin with.

Overall, it appears people are tiring of the incompetence and corruption of the ruling party, but the lack of support for the opposition suggests they do not yet see another good option outside of NRM. With less than 2 years until the 2011 elections, now is the time for the opposition to get serious about their campaign.

More analysis to come…

Cope can’t cope

So the results are mostly in for South Africa’s national elections, held yesterday. The ANC has won nearly two thirds of the votes counted so far, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) picking up close to 20%. Cope, it seems, however, is not coping so well, winning less than 10% of those counted so far.

The biggest lesson to be drawn from the early results is that Cope, which so many South Africans had hoped would turn into a viable alternative to the all-powerful ANC, has done worse than most people thought it would. It may now fizzle out.

Says the Economist.

Meanwhile, the next biggest question is, with so many wives, who will be Jacob Zuma’s first lady?

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika

This has to be my favorite national anthem (this version with Miriam Makeba). In fact I once tried to turn it into a title for this blog, but it proved far too lengthy/difficult to remember how to spell…

Anyway, back on the subject of elections, South Africa is next week (April 22) holding its national elections, with the African National Congress (ANC) set to win by a landslide (again) and Jacob Zuma to be elected the country’s next president.

But politics in South Africa is not what it was in the 1990s after the fall of apartheid, especially with the dawning of the ANC breakaway party, Congress of the People (COPE — quite a fitting acronym…), founded by disgruntled former ANC members following the ousting of former president Thabo Mbeki.

“The ANC is poised to win a convincing majority in national polls on Wednesday on the back of an effective electoral machinery and a resurgence in the populous province of KwaZulu-Natal. But beneath the headline figures, which will likely see the party coming close to the critical two-thirds majority it so urgently wants, there are signs of an important change in the political landscape. The ANC’s victory portends an arguably more significant realignment: a shift in the political landscape which could see the Democratic Alliance and Cope work closely together and so begin the work of crafting a governing alternative for future elections.”

Says the Mail & Guardian, discussing what the ANC victory means. The Economist also has quite a comprehensive piece on the subject, and you can catch all the latest on AllAfrica

How to feel like a little fish

in the big sea of democracies… look at India!

India’s general elections are currently underway, occurring in 5 phases over the course of a month. The number of voters in Uganda during the country’s 2006 presidential and national elections — 7 million — was just slightly higher than the number of staff reported to be working on India’s election (6.5 million, though some estimates go up to 10 million!)

Some numbers to boggle your mind:

4,617 candidates
300+ parties represented
543 seats being contested in the Lok Sabha
828,804 polling stations countrywide
714 million eligible voters
1.3 million electronic voting machines
$400 million spent on the election
2 million security personnel deployed
5 voting phases across the country over the course of April and May 2009

Also, something to consider — why does it cost more for some countries to execute an election than others? I calculated that it cost Uganda about $3.50 per eligible voter in 2006, and it is costing India about $0.56 in this year’s election….hmm…

(Illustration by Jon Berkeley via The Economist)