How the opposition leader has blundered on the chance to promote his political project – if he has any
By Andrew M. Mwenda
Media reports have recently indicated there are attempts to organise talks between the government and the opposition. For such talks to be meaningful, they have to involve President Yoweri Museveni and his main rival, Dr. Kizza Besigye. Even before anything tangible could materialise, however, Besigye was already bragging that “the dictatorship” is weak and has, therefore, approached him and his people “begging” for talks. The government, meanwhile, was denying involvement in any talks.
It is possible Besigye could have been approached because there are many people who would like talks and would suggest them to Museveni. Knowing him, Museveni would most likely agree – if only to explore possibilities as he plots how to use them to his advantage. If this is true, then Besigye is acting irresponsibly by bragging. It could explain why the government denied approaching him.
I personally suspect the government approached Besigye for talks. But contrary to Besigye’s view, Museveni would be open to talks because he is in a strong position. He is president. He has 82% of parliament to pass any legislation he wants. The army and police are loyal. Diplomats of all nations are paying homage to him. The economy could be faltering and the people angry, but there is no serious risk to Museveni’s power. Besigye and his supporters pay taxes to the same government, which Museveni uses to train and equip the police to keep them in check.
Museveni prefers to negotiate from such a position of strength. Throughout his political career, he has fought many enemies. However, it is only after defeating them on the battlefield does he use such victory to enter “peace talks”. The defeated enemy is often either given political leadership, including positions in Museveni’s cabinet, integrated into the army, or paid money to retire.