Wednesday, 7 November 2012

President Obama's re-election: Lessons for Uganda

After months of grueling campaigns the American people gave  Barack Obama another 4 years to be their President. Obama staved stiff competition from Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney whom he managed to defeat in both the popular and electoral college votes.

Romney called Obama to concede after the president's victories in the crucial state of Ohio and heavily contested swing states of Virginia, Nevada, Iowa and Colorado carried the Democrat past the 270 electoral votes needed for victory.

President Obama and his family waving to supporters
"This is a time of great challenge for our nation," Romney told disappointed supporters gathered at a Boston convention center. "I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation."

As I watched the events of the 2012 US election unfold, I could not help but wonder when my country Uganda  would witness this kind of electoral democracy. Elections in Uganda are a do or die thing where contenders cannot bring themselves close to a handshake. The incumbent usually abuse their incumbency by employing state machinery, state coercive instruments to brutalise their political opponents. This is something unheard of in the US elections.

It seems Ugandan politicians have a problem conceding defeat. The losers threaten or go to the bush to start war or they incite mass protests and riots. These scenarios arise partly because the electoral system is tilted to favour one side. This builds lack of confidence; so whatever the outcome of the election, there will be some ready to disown  it. This breeds confusion.

But according to the US ambassador to Uganda, Scott DeLisi, every nation shapes its own democracy. Mr. DeLisi noted that Ameriacans are able to accept the election results even before the end of tallying because they have confidence in their electoral system.

The ambassador called for strengthening of Uganda's electoral commission so that Ugandans can gain more confidence in it. "People need confidence in the electoral commission to know that their voices are being heard," DeLisi told guests at the US Embassy in Kampala as soon as Obama was declared winner of this year's presidential election. 

Uganda's electoral commission chairman Dr Badru Kiggundu said there is something important to learn about the level of technology used in the 2012 US Presidential election. Hopefully Dr Kiggundu can learn that the commission he heads needs more independence to gain the confidence of all Ugandans.

1 comment:

  1. Barack Obama won by a small difference of individual votes. This demonstrates dissatisfaction with his rule of almost half of the American people. I'm hoping, however, for Obama to take the reins of the economy, because U.S. growth produces positive effects in Brazil and much of the world.

    Thank you,