The Royal African Young Leadership Forum, RAYLF, has condemned the just-concluded Ugandan presidential election, calling it a stage-managed circus.
Recall that on January 16, 2021, Uganda’s longtime President, Yoweri Museveni, was declared the winner for a record sixth term, amid an internet blackout and allegations of abuse.
The opposition candidate, Bobi Wine, a singer-turned-politician, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, has been under house arrest after the military surrounded his home since Friday.
But while addressing a press conference on Thursday, the convener of the RAYLF in Nigeria, Bello Shagari, expressed his disappointment over the election, calling for the immediate release of Mr Wine.
According to him, the harassment and intimidation of Yoweri Museveni opponents by heavy-handed security agencies and the internet shutdown ordered by the government to prevent scrutiny, criticism and free speech, were a pointer to the injustice witnessed during the January 14 elections.
He said: “As a result of the foregoing, we, at RAYLF-Africa, have taken a stand to draw attention to the gimmick passing for democracy in Uganda, and call on all state actors and international organizations to deny General Museveni the recognition and legitimacy he craves to take Ugandans for another long ride through suppressions of rights and clampdowns on dissident citizens and organizations.
“Going further, we also wish to call for the unconditional and immediate release of the opposition Presidential candidate Bobi Wine and his team who have been under military house arrest before and after the elections.
“While we are disappointed by the silence of African leaders, we wish to now call on them and the entire international community to mediate and prevent Uganda from further descent into anarchy.”
Mr Shagari further described the series of crackdowns on opposition voices and dissenting citizens by Ugandan authorities loyal to the self-serving Yoweri Museveni, is a mockery of democratic principles by an overstaying dictator.
He added that Mr Bobi Wine, who was the Presidential Candidate of the National Unity Platform, was targeted along with his family and supporters, is convincing proof of the human rights violations that triggered clamouring for a benign President in Uganda.
“The complicity of Ugandan authorities in sustaining this 35-year-old tyranny, is telling. This has not only set a frightening precedent but undermines this system of government designed to give the people the power to choose who makes decisions for them.
“That the government resorted to shutting down the Internet to prevent access to social media in Uganda, is the desperation that could only come from a character prepared to any length to sabotage the electoral process.
“Additionally, the people of Uganda deserve dividends of the democracy that General Museveni frustrated through the method he mastered in his 35 years in power: harassment, intimidation, violence, and fraud.
“It’s an election that lacks even the minutest speck of credibility, and to which reputable observers have been systematically denied participation.
“We expect that, by now, sanctions must have been in place by democratic governments all over the world against the undemocratic conduct of General Museveni and his entire government.
“We will continue to keep an eye on the actions of the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union and, in the coming days, the United States under President Biden.
“The case in Uganda will be a test of your commitment to promoting democracy in Africa.
“As a vanguard of the African youths, we identify with the Dante Alighieri wisdom that “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis.”
“So, we won’t participate in this conspiracy to overlook this broad daylight armed robbery in Uganda. African democracy has come of age and we are prepared to promote it and defend its integrity.
“We will go to any legitimate length to ensure that our future is safeguarded from leaders who perpetuate their stay in power against the will of the people and denying the young the mandate and chance to take part in governance,” Mr Shagari stated.