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18 March 2012 | Feature Article

Impeaching President Museveni is good for the future Democracy of Uganda

Impeachment is not political suicide as some people make it sound. It actually helps the people involved to get some political capital out of it. We know that impeachment in a third world is wastage of time but it elevates the status of whoever is involved nationally and internationally. Already, some international media houses are reporting the attempts by some MPs to impeach president Museveni, and any form of publicity for a politician is better than nothing.

President Museveni, on the other hand, has been made to look like a 'pharaoh' in his own state as MPs start an impeachment process on him as president. He knows that he has got the numbers in parliament and he will wither the storm built around it, but he is surely uncomfortable with the whole thing.

If Uganda was a proper democracy, Museveni would have been impeached ages ago, but it is not. We are just learning our ropes, but I welcome the whole exercise and it should be encouraged. It is better than those who pick up arms to fight the president.

Apart from when in April 2009, Ken Lukyamuzi and CP suggested that the president get impeached following the re-appointment of Justice Faith Mwondha as the Inspector General of Government without the approval of Parliament, we have never seen parliament attempting to threaten president Museveni yet he has several times used his office wrongly. His removal through impeachment, even if it will not be successful, should be encouraged.

Seeking to impeach a politician is perfectly legal. It is a statement that the President has done wrong. That is why Impeachment is written into the Constitution .Impeachment itself is not a criminal procedure as in most cases the president is acquitted but being found not guilty doesn't mean that you are innocent. He is just considered innocent in the eyes of the law and NRMs. Not that this doctrine has any bearing on impeachment which is a political process.

We agree that under clause 4 of article 98 of our constitution that the President cannot be prosecuted for a criminal offence or sued in a civil action in any court. The sole exception being only the case of the Presidential Election Petition but an aggrieved party in any other civil or criminal matter will have to wait until the end of his term of office. The same constitution says the president, vice-president and all civil officers are subject to impeachment, and we shopuld encourage this one. It will keep them on their toes. Museveni will surely survive but what about others?

Bribery and treason are among the least ambiguous reasons meriting impeachment, but the ocean of wrongdoing encompassed by the Constitution's stipulation of “high crimes and misdemeanours” is vast. President Museveni has turned state house into 'National Theatre and he surely deserves to go one way or the other.

At the end of this process, Ugandans at least will know that they can remove a president from office by using their parliament instead of thinking of fighting wars in bushes.

Impeachment is about removing from office an Executive who has abused his executive power, who has used his place, position and authority to subvert the functioning, practice and excise of constitutionally guaranteed rights. For instance, the constitution does not give the president the right to give a directive that the police should investigate a certain politician as we witnessed with Besigye in 2010 over some comments he made against the president. This is the work of the IGG not the president. As an advocate for future democracy in Uganda, i wholeheartdely support the impeachment, and i think you should too.

Like I said, impeachment is a political process and it somehow hurts any leader in power one way or the other both in the short and long term. It is a sign that a certain section of people are dissatisfied with what you are doing and want you out.

Trust me, president Museveni would not like a vote on him to take place in that parliament and his people are secretly working around the clock to make sure that this impeachment only stops with words from vocal MPs. His PR people are also working around the clock to make sure that the media houses in Uganda don't make a meal out of it. It is not an issue they want to be given too much publicity. So, you won't see a lot of articles about this published in the main newspapers in Uganda.

In USA, the first official impeached was Senator William Blount of Tennessee for a plot to help the British seize Louisiana and Florida from Spain in 1797. Judge John Pickering of New Hampshire was the first impeached official actually convicted. He was found guilty of drunkenness and unlawful rulings, on March 12, 1804, and was believed to have been insane. Three presidents were seriously threatened with impeachment. The first, Andrew Johnson, escaped conviction in the Senate, and hence removal from office, by a single vote. The second, Richard Nixon, aborted the process by resigning. Nevertheless, that resignation was forced by the looming spectre of impeachment. The third one was William J. Clinton, the forty Second who was impeached but also survived the senate vote.

NRM MPs don't need to save the president in parliament if they feel that he has done wrong. For instance, Clinton was impeached on two counts, grand jury perjury and obstruction of justice, with the votes split along party lines. The perjury charge failed by a vote of 55–45, with 10 Republicans voting against impeachment along with all 45 Democrats. The obstruction of justice vote was 50–50, with 5 Republicans breaking ranks to vote against impeachment.

Similarly, I pray that some NRM MPs just do the right thing here even if president Museveni is the party chairman. I really hope they do. For once, I want to see the parliament shake the executive but I guess I'm just day dreaming. This is Uganda where parliament is actually owned by the executive. They control it by 'remote control', but impeachment is a good thing for future democracy.

Abbey Kibirige Semuwemba

quot-img-1No one can be so strong enough to single-handedly rob a whole nation. When a nation is robbed, it is either a company or a crowd that is involved.