When Donald Trump appeared to incite a riot at the Capitol building, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa were scathing in their response. But when it came to Uganda’s deeply flawed election, they and the African Union had little comment.
Yoweri Museveni, who has led the eastern African country since a 1986 coup, shut down the internet and made sure 38-year-old opponent Bobi Wine was under house arrest for days. Protests were brutally crushed, people were killed and the U.S., European Union and United Nations Commission on Human Rights all doubted the vote was fair.
“The opposition will have a right to ask why the AU did not intervene,” said Murithi Mutiga of the International Crisis Group. “They would have appreciated at least rhetorical support.”
Museveni, who despite his iron grip on Uganda’s state apparatus still won his lowest share of the vote in six elections, isn’t alone in clinging to power. In neighboring Rwanda, Paul Kagame has effectively led the country since 1994, and Paul Biya has ruled Cameroon since 1982. Top of the list is Teodoro Nguema Obiang, leader of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. No pressure has been put on any of them by the AU to move on.
While Museveni has clung on, Africa’s status as the world’s youngest continent is working against him and fellow aging leaders. Wine, the musician-turned-politician whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, highlighted Uganda’s demographics, where about 80% of the nation’s 42 million people are under 40. With stagnant economies, rampant unemployment and repressive politics, the patience of the youth is beginning to fray.
Main Photo: Emmerson Mnangagwa /Zimbabwe Situation