Museveni could have handled this better, without looking undemocratic and still maintained a win. The solution of subjecting this emotional debate to popular participation through creating a constitutional review commission, lies in his hands. But he has rather undermined the recommendations of he Supreme Court. Popular participation has worked for him before.
The creation of the 1995 constitution still under Museveni was done through a review commission chaired by Benjamin Odoki. The Uganda Constitutional Commission was given responsibility to start the process of developing a new Constitution. This was Popular participation.
Political parties had been banned from competing in elections for nearly 20 years in order to curb sectarian tensions. The decision to restore multi party politics that was after through a referendum, – Popular participation. This referendum was held in Uganda on 28 July 2005.
When they embarked on amending this very constitution the third time for term limits to be removed, it was subjected to a constitutional review commission chaired by Prof.Edward Sempeebwa. Popular participation. So what’s so special about Age Limit that can’t be subjected to popular participation ? Why the rush ? The country’s future is now being shaped by this debate.
Museveni has intentionally refused to set up a constitutional review for this debate. He’s blind of the fact that, Popular participation demonstrates the desire of the people to change their system of governance.
The process gives Ugandans an opportunity to make a fresh start by reviewing their past experiences, identifying the root causes of their problems, learning lessons from past mistakes and making genuine efforts to provide solutions for their better governance and future development.But maybe this is not something Museveni is interested in but yet Museveni is confident about popular support.
Popular participation will have saved the chaos in parliament because it portrayed Uganda as an autocratic state. This is not a good and bad perception of Uganda. Good for Ugandans, so they can shape their struggle out of dictatorship. Bad for the economy becaus a lot of investment decisions are being considered now, Uganda is likely to loose out on many opportunities given its current political climate.
This idea is not to defeat Museveni, but to generate a proper and thorough discussion of the age limit debate, not a rushed partisan process. He can still win (like he did in 2005 while amending the constitution on term limits) without looking like a dictator because we all know, no one is about it close to defeating him. At a time like this, Museveni has to rethink about the country’s future without him.