Kiiza Besigye, a Mukiga from Rukungiri in Kigezi, Amama Mbabazi, another Mukiga but from Kanungu in Kigezi, appear to command approximately equal shares of Baganda support in 2016 as does Yoweri Museveni, a Munyankole from Ntungamo in Ankole. “Ono y’asinga amaanyi agasobola okutujjirako Museveni” (“This one has the most power to rid us of Museveni”), Baganda who support Besigye or Mbabazi say when asked why they choose one and not the other.
Besigye’s Baganda supporters generally believe he will win because he is experienced in competing with Museveni, in addition to support he has from his leading opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). But they ignore his anti-Buganda history while in the NRA, and instances of FDC discrimination against Baganda.
Mbabazi’s Baganda supporters seem to believe he will win because he is the architect of Museveni’s NRM system and knows how to outsmart Museveni. And some even allege that he has Baganda support because he has given billions of shillings to current and former cash-strapped Mmengo officials.
Mbabazi’s Baganda supporters ignore his centrality in crafting Museveni’s major anti-Buganda and anti-Kabaka laws and regulations from 1986 to 2014. And they ignore such things as his refusal to learn Luganda until opinion polls showed that Luganda was a must.
My opinion is that Museveni cannot hand over power to anyone he does not trust to protect him from the International Criminal Court (ICC). He fears ICC prosecution for crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Rome Statute—the treaty which established the ICC—defines the term “crimes against humanity” in Article 7 to include, among other crimes:
“War crimes” under Article 8 of the Rome Statute include the offenses of using children under the age of fifteen years as soldiers, and willful killing.
The only person Museveni might trust to protect him from such charges is his son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
I will Never Hand over Power
For some time now, Museveni has let it be known that he will never hand over power. On December 21, 2015, for instance, he said in Namutumba, Eastern Uganda, “Then you hear people say: ‘Museveni should go.’ But go and leave the oil money? They want me to go so that they can come and spoil the oil money. These people want me to go back to the bush.”
Almost a year earlier, on January 14, 2015, in Rukiga County, Kabale District, he said he would not hand over power to the opposition because they were like wolves ready to tear Uganda apart.
Three years earlier, in February 2012, Museveni appeared on the BBC current affairs program Hardtalk. Host Stephen Sackur reminded him of his 1992 book What is Africa’s Problem? in which Museveni wrote that Africa’s problem are leaders who overstay in power. In response, Museveni told Sackur that overstaying was not a problem, and it was not who leads but what he or she does.
But Mr. Museveni does not merely want to stay and do more for Uganda. Like Muamar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, he seems to fear prosecution for committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. Below are examples of evidence that leads me to my opinion that the ICC prosecutor would be interested in investigating Mr. Museveni.
Murder—Crime Against Humanity
At Adonia Tiberondwa’s burial on December 26, 2004, a senior NRA officer and NRM minister, Kahinda Otafiire, admitted that the NRA carried out extra judicial murders against civilians during its guerrilla war. Otafiire said that Museveni’s fighters would wear UPC colors and go into Luweero to murder civilians so that the murders could be blamed on the UPC government. Godfrey Mwakikagile reports this in his 2013 book Uganda: A Nation in Transition.
Systematic Attacks on Civilians—Crime Against Humanity
Uganda: 5 Years on, No Justice for Protest Killings (September 10, 2014) is the title of the report in which Human Rights Watch (HRW) reports that in September 2009, Museveni ordered his men to shoot live ammunition into crowds of demonstrators. These were unarmed Baganda protesting Museveni’s ban of their Kabaka’s travel to Kayunga, and HRW verified 40 murders and 88 hospitalizations.
Torture—Crime Against Humanity
For instance, “In September , four members of the opposition [FDC] appeared before the court charged with treason. They complained of torture in detention after having been detained by the [Special Investigation Unit] for 14 days,” says HRW in World Report 2013: Uganda.
Child Soldiers—War Crime
Museveni proudly defends use of child soldiers. In a YouTube video, he appears with children in uniform and claims, without the benefit of reliable evidence, that in African tradition children as young as four are taught to fight using bows and spears and that they are not disoriented by that experience.
Land Mines—War Crime
In the October 27, 2010 edition of Foreign Policy newsletter, Paul Salopek explains why the deliberate use of land mines is willful killing and a war crime. And in her 2013 book, Prominent African Leaders Since Independence, Bridgette Kasuka writes that Mr. Museveni deliberately planted land mines against civilians in the Luweero Triangle.
If ICC prosecutors determine that Museveni committed or is committing any crimes listed in the Rome Statute, Article 53 requires an investigation. The prosecutors may seek a warrant for Museveni’s arrest under Article 58; and, under Article 59, would have to send the warrant to Uganda for execution of the arrest.
Obviously, Museveni and Muhoozi cannot be expected to honor the warrant. But Besigye, Mbabazi,or someone else unfriendly to Museveni is likely to honor it, arrest Museveni and hand him over to the ICC.
In this column I do not try to predict who will win the 2016 elections. My intention is to caution Baganda who support Besigye or Mbabazi, for emotional or financial reasons, that, win or lose, Museveni cannot hand over power to anyone who cannot protect him from the ICC.