Uganda Heading to Civil War? - News Update
"World Bank Report Warns of Civil War"
A World Bank commissioned report says Uganda may be plunged into a civil war if President Yoweri Museveni pushes for a third term.
In what could increase donor pressure on Mr Museveni's continued leadership of the country and intentions to stay on after 2006, the report has recommended aid cuts to Uganda over the next three years, warning that extreme prudence is required because of the country's increased risk to political uncertainty and violence.
"Though not etched in stone, it would appear that President Museveni has decided to press on with his effort to secure a third term as a price for his country's transition to multiparty politics. Should this be his final decision, the likelihood of greater violence than that which accompanied the 2001 elections is very high," the report said.
"This could in turn be highly destabilising, and, in the worst case scenario, result into proliferation of armed insurrections if not outright civil war in selected areas of the South - in addition to violence that is already occurring in the North," reads the report titled "The Political Economy of Uganda - The Art of Managing a Donor-Financed Neo-Patrimonial State".
The report adds: "The president would retain the power, but the popular base of the regime would be a shadow of what it once enjoyed. Uganda will have morphed into a Moi-like system of increasingly corrupt and repressive authoritarian rule". (Moi was president of the once prosperous Kenya from 1978 until his corrupt Kanu administration was overwhelmingly rejected in the December 2002 elections).
Parliament is expected to amend Article 105(2) of the constitution, which would enable Museveni, now in the final term of his two-constitutional terms to seek re-election in 2006 and stay on.
The World Bank report, commissioned to establish the risk of lending programmes in Uganda, recommends a move back to closely monitored project lending in the ongoing three-year aid programme up to 2008, largely because of Museveni's third term push.
The study headed by Prof. Joel Barkan of the University of Iowa and a Senior Consultant on Africa Governance conducted last year, warns the bank to be extremely prudent, recommending a "low case" lending programme in Uganda during the period of the forthcoming Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) and rethinking of the appropriateness of continued budget support to the country.
"We regret that we cannot be more positive about the present political situation in Uganda, especially given the country's admirable record through the late 1990s," the 66 - page confidential report reads.
Other members of the World bank study team, included Jack Titsworth, Africa Governance Consultant for the World Bank, Prof Njuguna Ng'ethe of the University of Nairobi and Sallie Simba Kayunga, a political science lecturer at Makerere University.
Reacting to the concerns raised in the study, the Prime Minister, Prof. Apolo Nsibambi, told The Monitor yesterday that there was no need to press the panic button in view of the recommendations of the report.
"This is not the position of the World Bank. It's just a study by a researcher and the World Bank has not adopted it," Nsibambi said by telephone.
"We have a very good relationship with our financial partners including the World Bank. If there was any indication of any problem, the lady [World Bank country representative Grace Yabroudy] would have met me or the president to raise the concerns but she hasn't met any of us," the Prime Minister said.
Nsibambi said despite recent indications that major donors including Britain may cut aid to Uganda; there was no evidence that the donors are getting jittery over the country's democratic process.
"There is no cause for alarm," he said. "The donors are asking for clarifications and we clarify to their satisfaction as we have always done," Nsibambi said.
But Mr John Nagenda, President Museveni's senior adviser on media and public relations, said the World Bank should be mindful of the wishes of the majority of Ugandans.
"I can assure you that whether you and me like the third term or not, by all indices, it appears it will go through because that is what the majority of Ugandans want. Who says that there would be a civil war because the majority want Museveni?" he asked.
"If Museveni stands in 2006, the majority, if they don't want him - he will be shown the door. That is democracy," Nagenda said on telephone.
Nagenda said the World Bank should be democratic.
"It should use its people on the ground to discover what Ugandans want. It would be tragic if the World Bank uses its financial power to punish the majority of Ugandans. We are also asking the rest of the donors why they think they should speak for Ugandans," Nagenda said.
The report expresses worry about the militarisation of politics and the increasing influence on Uganda's military matters by the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB), President Museveni's elite guard whose members have been reportedly recruited by Museveni's brother, Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh, and his son, Maj. Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Kainerugaba is a commander in the PGB.
"The PGB is a classic praetorian guard, i.e. a military unit apart from the regular army whose sole purpose is to ensure that the head of government remains in power.
"While its exact size and equipment is a subject of speculation, the fact that it is big and well equipped, including such weaponry as battle cars, tanks, and armoured personnel carriers is not in doubt; nor does the government deny such," the report says.
"Whether the purpose of the PGB is to protect the regime against any potential intervention into Uganda's politics by the UPDF, or to suppress other opponents is unclear, but the raison d'etre (purpose) of the PGB is not the defence of Uganda borders," the report says.
"Observers knowledgeable about Uganda's military note that several senior officers from the PGB, including Muhoozi, have been redeployed to the UPDF to enhance its capacity and loyalty," the report says in a critique of the PGB formation.