Home News The War in Sudan and Lessons for Uganda

The War in Sudan and Lessons for Uganda


By Muhimbise George

Looking at the ongoing conflict in Sudan that has left hundreds dead and properties worth billions destroyed gets me to think deeply about the future of Uganda, especially the post-Museveni era. What pains me most is that even the international community – the so-called “development partners” are evacuating their people from Khartoum leaving the Sudanese people to taste the ugly part of this conflict!

As I ponder about this I remember the crisis that followed the post-Gaddafi era in Libya, a post-Mubarak era in Egypt, post Siad Bare era in Somalia, post Compaure era in Burkina Faso, post Habyarimana era in Rwanda, and the post-Mobutu era in DRC! Indeed in Africa, we seem to learn nothing and forget nothing!

The bitter truth is that leaders who overstay in power leave behind very weak state institutions. They become strongmen in power at the expense of state institutions. These institutions are incapable of holding the country together when the strongman leaves power because they are essentially built to serve his interests. They are founded on patronage, intrigue, and divide & rule!

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Uganda has an opportunity to learn from all those countries so it to manage its transition better. However, looking at them it appears that violence or uprisings may not be viable methods to bring about the desired change since they have proven to be counterproductive in many respects.

It’s worth noting that whereas a desperate population may unconsciously desire “any change”, this may be a mere desire or want and not a need. The real need of any population ought to be a qualitative change. A change that not only sustains the gains made but also brings new opportunities and hopes for the country.

Sadly the changes in regimes of Mobutu, Hosni Mubarak, Bashir, Gaddafi, Said Bare, Compaure, etc brought false hope. They brought more pain than hope and more problems than solutions! This means that we should not just agitate for “any change” but rather a qualitative change.

So what direction should Uganda take? How do we bring about change but also sustain the peace and stability that we have? How do we get a change that creates opportunities for Ugandans without endangering the achievements so far made?

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There are two schools of thought. The first one is for the radicals who argue that citizens should come together and wrestle power from Gen Museveni. The other one is that of the moderates who think that the elite on behalf of citizens should dialogue with Gen Museveni and negotiate a transition.

The approach of the radicals has been tested in the countries mentioned above, it has delivered some change, shortlived hope, and then tyranny while the approach of moderates worked in Kenya (post-Moi), Ghana (post-Rollings), and Zimbabwe partly (post-Mugabe). This delivered some relative qualitative change but most importantly helped to avoid anarchy and turmoil in these countries!

So what’s the way forward for Uganda? Will Ugandans wrestle power from Museveni’s hands through a revolution? Will Gen Museveni look on as power is being wrestled from his hands? Will he lay a red carpet for the opposition to walk him out of the state house? Will he fight back as he has always done to any violent attempts to challenge his power? If he is to fight back how much damage will Uganda face? Won’t the ordinary Ugandans be the collateral damage just like the grass suffer whenever two elephants fight?

Looking at the volatile neighborhood & insecurity in the region (South Sudan, Ethiopia, now Sudan, DRC, Somalia, Chad, Central African Republic, etc) what would happen if Uganda plunged itself into violence? Where would close to 1.5m refugees in Uganda run to? Where would Ugandans themselves run to?

With the current insecurity in the greater North resulting from cattle rustling by the Karamojong, what would happen if there is anarchy and the absence of a state? Imagine an insurgency of cattle rustlers coming from the Turkana region all through Karamoja and spreading through Acholi, Lango, Bugisu & Teso, and then firearms moving freely through South Sudan and DRC, then ADF coming through South Western Uganda, etc, wouldn’t Uganda become a cocktail of violence?

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Let’s look at the best-case scenario that the opposition successfully wrestles power from Gen Museveni, would it have a minimum consensus on how to govern thereafter or would there be internal fights as it has happened in Libya, Egypt, Sudan, etc?

Why is it that to date there is no platform where NUP, FDC, DP, ANT, UPC, etc meet to discuss national issues and at least build a minimum consensus on national issues irrespective of their ideological or strategic differences? If the opposition can’t build a minimum consensus during “hunting” will they build this consensus during eating?

What if we tried dialogue what would happen?

We have a radicle opposition that takes dialogue for co-optation or compromise and this makes it hard for any opposition leader to take part in any dialogue.

Looking at this, can we define the role of the population in defining our country’s destiny? Does a peasant population in a poor third or “sad” world country have a “real” stake in how their country is managed? Do they have a level of political consciousness that can make them determine the trajectory of their country? Is the role of leaders to follow their population (populism) or is it to guide the population (leadership)?

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Looking at the above questions, it appears that dialogue may be the most viable option for Uganda. Dialogue may create a win-win situation for all parties and may create some hope.

As we head for the 2026 general elections which is more less a determined game the opposition should build momentum for a national dialogue. It could be painful but it’s safer as compared to other available alternatives!

Muhimbise George muhimbiseg@gmail.com, 0787836515

The author is a political analyst.

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