Uganda democracy crusader Kizza Besigye tells Kenyans to defend democracy

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Uganda Opposition leader Kizza Besigye. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

Uganda’s Opposition leader Kizza Besigye has warned Kenyans against lowering their guard in their quest for democracy.

Besigye is attending a conference on Uganda’s state of democracy in Nairobi.

Speaking on Spice FM this morning,  Besigye said while Kenya had made significant steps in the realisation of democratic governance, the gains could be reversed if citizens allowed negative political trends to thrive.

“We are keeping a close eye on you because you [Kenyans] are leading the democratic process, and any reversal will harm those who were looking to the country for inspiration,” he said.

He expressed concern about Fafi MP Salah Yakub’s proposal to repeal the presidential two-term limit and replace it with an age limit of up to 75 years for those running for the seat.

“You are on very slippery ground; the steps that Kenya has made have been achieved through struggle. But you relax a little, they will be reversed because the achievements have not been consolidated… you brink and the gains are gone,” he said.

Besigye urged civil society organizations to stand firm and oppose such regressive proposals.

“Civil society has a huge role to play in continuing to broaden citizens’ competencies to identify danger signals and push back against negative trends that will creep up in society,” he said.

“If you can’t influence what happens in your country, you’ll end up in the kind of trouble that Uganda is in,” he said.

His sentiments come a day after President William Ruto dismissed any plot to amend the Constitution to extend his term limit.

Ruto said he was not interested in extending his term, asking lawmakers allied to him to instead focus on amending laws that will benefit Kenyans.

“Do not spend your time pushing for selfish and self-serving legislation, like changing the Constitution to remove term limits. My focus is service to the people,” Ruto said.

According to Besigye, Uganda has one of the worst records of human rights violations and has disregarded the rule of law under President Yoweri Museveni.

The country celebrated 60 years of independence on Sunday 9 October.

“All these years no leader has ever handed over power peacefully. Similarly, of course, whoever has occupied the highest office in the country has bombed his way into office, which precisely means the people of Uganda do not have the capacity to raise one of them to leadership or to say stop… In other words, the population has no voice in deciding their leaders,” he said. 

“Every human being aspires to have freedom. It is an intrinsic need for humans to have justice and be treated fairly. The people of Uganda believe in a political dispensation that will accord that kind of governance,” he said. 

In an exclusive interview with NTV on November 16, Besigye said that Museveni was perceived to be the most enlightened, but turned out to be the worst in human rights violations.

“The abuses since 1986, when the government was supposed to be more enlightened took over, have been more. Ugandans have seen far greater injustices and violence under Museveni’s rule. Probably because he’s been here longer,” Besigye said.

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