It was just a month ago when we were all in a frenzy over elections. We went to rallies, watched debates, and endlessly discussed the candidates. Like secret handshakes, we all knew the hand gestures. Were you pointing forward, making a “V” for victory, or the classic thumbs up? The world watched, certain we would erupt in violence. And then voting day came. And it went. The day of the results came. And it went. And guess what, no violence. Uganda decided, and like any election, some are happier than others, but we’re moving on, looking towards the future.
Or at least most of us are.
Dr. Kizza Besigye raged that the vote was rigged, and called for his supporters to rise up and protest. But we Ugandans are a peaceful lot. We watched the horrible violence our poor neighbors suffered after the elections in Kenya in 2007. That’s not a road we want to go down. (And Kenya’s government has wisely made reforms so they won’t go down that road again.)
Human Rights Watch notes Dr. Besigye is held under house arrest and that the police are “…arguing they have “intelligence” that he intends to cause unrest.” That evidence might be the many times Dr. Besigye publicly vowed to have a campaign of defiance and confrontation, or the times he lived up to those promises.
Dr. Besigye’s Facebook page and Twitter are filled with appeals to his supporters. Unfortunately for him, all but his most loyal die-hards have moved on.
Mr. Amama Mbabazi has disputed the election results, filing a petition with the Uganda Supreme Court. Mr. Mbabazi’s petition will be legally resolved by the Supreme Court, as it should in any democracy.
Meanwhile, according to the Observer, six of his lawyers were interviewing witnesses when his lawyer, Asuman Basalirwa, claimed the police surrounded the house. He posted on his Facebook page: “Is it intended to scare away the thousands of witnesses we have been receiving since morning?” He then notes that in order to pre-empt police action, Mr. Mbabazi’s in-law, Hope Mwesigye drove the witnesses away from the building. Mbabazi claims there was vote rigging and irregularities in counting, but it seems his lawyers also have trouble counting. Six lawyers were interviewing thousands of witnesses? Or that thousands of witnesses fit into a car to be driven away?
The United States and Europe continue to call for calm after the elections. NGOs note continued problems. And yet, other than a few blips on social media, all is calm in Kampala and elsewhere.
For most of us, we have gotten back to our daily life and concerns, with the election no more than a distant memory.
The election is over. Uganda decided. Now it’s time to move on.