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Why aren't the uprisings spreading to sub-Saharan Africa?

allreasoned_outallreasoned_out Posts: 2,696 ✭✭
edited February 2011 in The Social Lounge
Here is one recent analysis focusing on Uganda.

In Uganda, Unrest Gains Little Ground


KAMPALA, Uganda — Fresh from fighting in the bush, Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, a former rebel commander, electrified the crowd at his inaugural address in 1986 when he declared that “the problems of Africa, and Uganda in particular, are caused by leaders who overstay in power.”

He vowed never to be one of them. Now, after 25 years in office, he is running again.

Voting began on Friday across the country in an election that could give Mr. Museveni, a close American ally whose relatively small nation gets hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid, his fifth consecutive term as president. By all measures — polls, diplomatic analyses, even taxi-driver talk — he is expected to win.

But while Uganda shares many of the same, combustible conditions that have fueled popular uprisings in the Arab world — grinding poverty, masses of jobless, students glued to Facebook and a leader who refuses to step down after more than two decades in power — few here expect widespread upheaval.

In fact, the persistence of authoritarianism, whether through acceptance or a sense of helplessness to do much about it, seems to be the rule across much of sub-Saharan Africa, home to some of the most everlasting strongmen in the world: José Eduardo dos Santos in Angola, in power since 1979; Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, also since 1979; Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, since 1980; Omar Hassan al-Bashir in Sudan, since 1989. And the list goes on.

“There are two main reasons why we’re not seeing North Africa-style popular revolts in sub-Saharan African,” said Phil Clark, a lecturer in international politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

First, he argued, many sub-Saharan African countries are more divided ethnically, and such divisions “undermine the possibility of a mass social movement against the national leadership.”

Second, and partly connected, is the loyalty of the army, which is often built from the president’s ethnic group and bolstered by corrupt spoils.

“Museveni and Mugabe can rely on total commitment from the military,” Dr. Clark said. “The fear of violent military crackdowns keeps many Ugandans and Zimbabweans off the streets.”

Many young urban Ugandans, who have been watching their Arab counterparts stage huge protests, seem to agree. “Ugandans have no unity,” said Charles Rollins, a 21-year-old university student, speaking about ethnic divisions. “That is why we are different.”

Robert Lugolobi, executive director of Transparency International’s Uganda chapter, argued: “People here are too tribal. Uprisings happen, but they happen by tribe.”

In September 2009, dozens of young Ugandans were killed by the security forces in intense rioting in Kampala, the capital. They were members of the Baganda ethnic group and furious that Mr. Museveni’s government was trying to curtail the powers of their traditional king. The government cracked down harshly, and few expect the Baganda to riot again like that anytime soon.

Of course, ethnic divisions alone do not explain the notable lack of anti-authoritarian protests in most of sub-Saharan Africa. Yemen has long suffered serious tribal conflicts, but that has not stopped demonstrators there from demanding an end to the authoritarian rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. In Egypt, protesters across religious, ideological and class lines all descended on Tahrir Square to oust President Hosni Mubarak.

Here in Uganda, many young people support Mr. Museveni, who is credited with turning the country around. Over the past few days, they have packed shoulder to shoulder at rallies, waiting patiently under a punishing sun, some of them waving hilarious posters of the mzee, or old man, as the president calls himself, with his face superimposed on an Incredible Hulk-like body.

“Mzee, our freedom fighter,” the slogan goes.

Mr. Museveni, who was born in 1944 — official documents do not provide an exact date — has tried to cultivate a folksy, avuncular image, often appearing at campaign rallies with his wife, Janet, and decked out in a wide-brimmed planter’s hat. Even among detractors here and abroad, he is not usually spoken of in the same breath of, say, Mr. Mugabe, who is widely blamed for transforming a once prosperous country into one of the world’s poorest.

Uganda’s agricultural-based economy stands in stark contrast to that, growing steadily over the past few years, by a respectable 6 or 7 percent. Oil is on its way, 200,000 barrels per day, starting as early as next year, which could increase growth much more.

Mr. Museveni’s message, printed on ubiquitous yellow T-shirts, is peace and security, and Uganda has come a long way on that front. In the 1970s, it was haunted by a dictator, Idi Amin, notorious for beating people to death with his own hands. In the 1980s and 1990s, the rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army terrorized the countryside, slicing off lips and hacking away at villagers. Today, Kampala is reasonably safe — definitely much safer than Nairobi, in neighboring Kenya — and the rebels have been pushed out of the country.

This stability carries some costs, though. Mr. Museveni’s opponents and Western analysts accuse him of running a vast and corrupt patronage system and abusing human rights. This month Human Rights Watch said the Ugandan police had rounded up civilians who complained about corruption. His government has threatened to execute gay people, though a bill in Parliament calling for that has yet to be resolved.

Seven others are running for president, and the problem for Uganda’s opposition, just like that in other African countries that are beginning to experiment with democracy, is that it is rudderless and divided. The stiffest competition Mr. Museveni faces is from his old comrade Kizza Besigye, a retired army colonel who has run twice before and lost, though he claimed fraud.

Mr. Besigye, who seems to be a bit of a loose cannon on the campaign trail, predicted Egypt-style riots. (He has also intimated that Uganda was better off under Idi Amin.) He warned that Mr. Museveni’s government had “created these conditions of oppression and despondency, conditions of frustration, unemployment, that can lead to violence.”

Ugandan human rights groups say that the leading political parties have organized young people into militias, a troubling sign. Another worry is if the election is close and the government tries to rig the results to stay in power, then people could rise up. That seemed to be the case in Kenya in 2007, plunging that country into a violent crisis. The unrest in North Africa and the Middle East has sent a few tendrils to other parts of Africa, though the relatively small protests in Sudan, Djibouti and Gabon were quickly crushed.

The Ugandan security forces are out in force. On Thursday, the day before the election, squads of officers prowled the streets, swinging batons and carrying guns. Protests are one fear; a terrorist attack is another. Uganda has thousands of peacekeepers in Somalia, and Somali terrorists bombed crowds in Kampala last summer, killing scores. That seems to be the biggest question — whether this election will pass incident-free, not so much who will win.



  • tru_m.a.ctru_m.a.c Posts: 9,091 ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2011
    the problem for Uganda’s opposition, just like that in other African countries that are beginning to experiment with democracy, is that it is rudderless and divided. The stiffest competition Mr. Museveni faces is from his old comrade Kizza Besigye, a retired army colonel who has run twice before and lost, though he claimed fraud.

    pretty much the end all be all
  • allreasoned_outallreasoned_out Posts: 2,696 ✭✭
    edited February 2011
    Swiffness! wrote: »
    this article in a sentence:

    african countries done had so many revolutions, the shit's cliche now.

    What are you talking about? That is not the gist of the article.
  • Swiffness!Swiffness! PART OF THE CONSPIRACY Posts: 10,124 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2011
    There are a lot of AK-47 toting guerrilla gangs in Sub-Sahara Africa gang-raping and using child soldiers in the name of "revolution".
  • allreasoned_outallreasoned_out Posts: 2,696 ✭✭
    edited February 2011
    Swiffness! wrote: »
    There are a lot of AK-47 toting guerrilla gangs in Sub-Sahara Africa gang-raping and using child soldiers in the name of "revolution".

    Wrong again.
  • Swiffness!Swiffness! PART OF THE CONSPIRACY Posts: 10,124 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2011
    What are you talking about? That is not the gist of the article.

    well don't quote me before i try to change a incorrect snap judgement next time.

    ugh. you know what, i really need some sleep, my mind is really dragging here

    imma just call you a Illuminati plant and call it a night
  • Swiffness!Swiffness! PART OF THE CONSPIRACY Posts: 10,124 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2011
    Wrong again.

    if you mean wrong as in related to the article than yes

    if you mean wrong as in "revolution" hasn't been used as an excuse to kidnap and rape african kids at will, well.....
  • allreasoned_outallreasoned_out Posts: 2,696 ✭✭
    edited February 2011
    Look at what's happening in the Ivory Coast.

    6 killed as army opens fire in Ivory Coast


    ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Elite troops loyal to the sitting president Laurent Gbagbo entered opposition neighborhoods in Ivory Coast's biggest city on Monday, throwing grenades, firing machine guns and attacking the population with rocket launchers, witnesses said.

    The attack happened as an African Union delegation arrived in a last-ditch effort to find a solution to the crisis that has gripped this nations since a contested election nearly three months ago.

    At least six people were killed during the Monday assault, including a 14-year-old boy who was rushed to a local clinic in the Treichville district of Abidjan. Doctors said he died of blood loss and a reporter saw his corpse, his chest and abdomen crisscrossed by hundreds of shrapnel wounds.

    A few blocks away, dozens of community members sat vigil around a second body, this one of a young man draped in a bloody sheet who had half his face torn off by what witnesses said was fire from a machine gun mounted on the back of a police truck.

    A reporter was led to the spot where two more people had died, and whose bodies had been taken away. At least 15 people were wounded and those that could talk say they recognized the signature red berets of the presidential guard as well as the elite unit's insignia on the trucks.

    The crackdown happened in neighborhoods that support opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, who is the internationally recognized president of Ivory Coast. He is expected to receive the AU delegation on Tuesday inside the hotel where he has been barricaded since the Nov. 28 election, unable to govern the country he was elected to lead because the sitting president refuses to go.

    Laurent Gbagbo, who has been in power for a decade, has refused to accept the results issued by his country's electoral commission which are considered legitimate by the United Nations and all the international observation missions. The country's constitutional council, headed by one of Gbagbo's closest advisers, has overturned those results.

    While the sound of explosions echoed through the town, the pomp and ceremony that accompanied the arrival of four African presidents sent to resolve the political crisis continued as if nothing was going on.

    The AU delegation first went to the presidency and is expected on Tuesday to head to the Golf Hotel, a resort hotel on an arm of Abidjan's lagoon where Ouattara and his staff live under 24-hour U.N. guard. The panel created by the African Union comes on the heels of numerous other mediation efforts and is the latest attempt to try to find a graceful exit for Gbagbo, who has been able to cling to power because he still controls the army.

    The U.N. estimates close to 300 people have been killed since the vote, a majority of whom were supporters of Ouattara.

    The five president panel includes the presidents of Chad, Mauritania, South Africa and Tanzania. Another panel member, Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore, canceled his trip to Abidjan after a violent youth militia aligned with Gbagbo descended on the airport late Sunday, saying they planned to attack Compaore's convoy if he attempted to enter the country.

    Of the five, Compaore has been the most vocal supporter of Ouattara. By contrast, Zuma has suggested that the results, which have already been certified by the United Nations and accepted by governments around the world, should be reviewed.

    Neither side believes the mediation effort will work. Gbagbo's advisers have said they will not accept the panel's conclusions if the panel attempts to tell Gbagbo to leave.

    Ouattara's side is equally pessimistic. His prime minister, Guillaume Soro, said last week he expects the negotiation attempt to fail. He called on Ouattara's supporters to launch an 'Egypt-style' revolution.

    In Ouattara neighborhoods over the weekend, police opened fire in places where residents were attempting to hold meetings. On Monday, shots could be heard ringing out from Treichville including what sounded like heavy artillery.

    Large caliber bullet holes riddled the storefronts in Treichville and a hole 2-feet in diameter was visible in the concrete side of a building that, witnesses say, was blown open by a rocket. Doctors say security forces used grenades during the operation.

    Kady Konate, the president of the youth branch of Ouattara's party in Treichville said that demonstrators had tried to take to the streets.

    "We called on our supporters to line the sides of the boulevard," said Konate. "The police pushed us back into the neighborhood, where there were lots of bystanders caught by surprise."

    Monday afternoon residents built makeshift defenses to keep the police out, including pits dug into the middle of the road and fires lit in each intersection.

    Speaking inside the clinic in Treichville, Amadou Koffi said he and his friends ventured out when they saw smoke rising from the street. It was tear gas, he said.

    "Then we heard a big boom, and I didn't realize I was hit," said Koffi, who was wounded on the shoulder. "The Republican Guard had tossed the grenade out of the truck."

    A trauma physician who was treating the patients and who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter said that the troops had used heavy weaponry.

    "They are using more serious military weapons," said the doctor. "We have not seen this before."

  • Swiffness!Swiffness! PART OF THE CONSPIRACY Posts: 10,124 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2011
    Heard about that asshole president on npr a while back. He's digging his own grave. He's a history teacher. He ain't built for dat real dictator life.
  • janklowjanklow god's lonely man. Posts: 8,588 Regulator
    edited February 2011
    Swiffness! wrote: »
    There are a lot of AK-47 toting guerrilla gangs in Sub-Sahara Africa gang-raping and using child soldiers in the name of "revolution".
    actually, they appear to be in Libya killing people for Gaddafi right now
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