Country Report Uganda March 2011

The political scene: The result leaves the opposition in disarray

However, with a decisive result and an election process generally judged as fair, the most important question remaining is whether Mr Besigye will call for direct action against the government, as he threatened during the campaign. The scale of Mr Museveni's victory indicates that any protest against the result would not have the backing of most Ugandans. It is also doubtful that any of the opposition groups would have the stomach for it. The focal point of the opposition over the past two years was the semi-autonomous region of Buganda, where support had appeared to swing away from the NRM. However the voting results appear to indicate that most of the anti-Museveni rhetoric was coming from the Buganda leadership rather than the grass-roots. Buganda did not inflame voter passions; even in Kampala, usually a hotbed of opposition to Mr Museveni, Mr Besigye outpolled his rival by less than 4,000 votes in one of the lowest turnouts of the day at only 42%. This demonstrates a distinct lack of revolutionary zeal, considering Mr Besigye won Kampala in 2006 by over 70,000 in a turnout of 57%. On balance, it seems likely that Mr Besigye will be forced to accept the election result, however grudgingly, and that any protests, if they happen at all, will be on a small scale. His best political years now look to be firmly in the past and his challenge to Mr Museveni's rule has taken a beating from which it is unlikely to recover.

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