By Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba
The last several months have been quite engaging on the campaign trail. It was great seeing you come out to hear me out even when I was a first timer on the Presidential campaign trail. You sure gave me a chance to start a political career that will not just end with this Presidential election.
I learnt a lot from you all through campaigns and social media interactions. With elections behind us, I respect your choice. I have always believed that the voice of the people is greater than my interests. I pledge to always serve this country in different ways no matter your choice.
Later today, I will call Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and congratulate him on being elected President of Uganda, 2016 — 2021. As Presidential candidates who participated in the 2016 Presidential election we need to start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we’ve just passed.
“Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism and I say to President-elect Yoweri Kaguta Museveni that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside, and may God bless his stewardship of this country. My colleagues who are still not satisfied with the outcome of the Presidential election I urge them to resolve the matter through the honored institutions of our democracy, i.e. appeal to the Supreme Court.
As our motto says ‘For God and My Country’; so it can never be under man but under God and law. It should never be about us the politicians but about the people of Uganda and our country.
While I don’t fully agree with the manner in which the Electoral Commission conducted these elections and the apparent shortfalls in the process, let there be no doubt, I accept the outcome of the Presidential election.
Today, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Ugandans together in fulfillment of the great vision of our country enshrined in Vision 2040.
In addition I shall avail my manifesto and all policy and strategy documents I had prepared to the President Elect for the good of our country; as they say two heads are better than one.
Let me say how grateful I am to all those who supported me and supported the cause for which we have fought. To my wife and our two beautiful daughters, I must say you brought love, passion and high purpose to our cause and opened new doors, not just for our campaign but for our country. To my campaign team I have no better words to say than to wish you a successful career ahead. To all the Presidential candidates, thank you for bringing dignity and purpose to the presidential campaigns.
Indeed, history gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated, as fiercely fought, with their own challenges to the popular will. And when history is written again this will be one of them. But what is important is that each time we have a hotly contested election and however close it might be, both the victor and the vanquished should have the courage and will to put the country first and accept the result peacefully and in a spirit of reconciliation. That is why our constitution provides for an appeal to the Supreme Court for those not satisfied with the outcome so that the rule of law prevails.
I, personally, will be at the disposal of the President Elect, and I call on all Ugandans — I particularly urge all who never voted for Yoweri Kaguta Museveni — to unite behind our next president. This is Uganda, the Pearl of Africa.
Just as we fight hard when the stakes are high, we should close ranks and come together when the contest is done. And while there will be time enough to debate the weaknesses and shortfalls of the Electoral Commission and what went wrong like the late delivery of polling materials in places as near as Kampala and Wakiso districts, now is the time to recognize that that which unites us is greater than that which divides us.
As for what I’ll do next, I don’t know the answer to that one yet. I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the people of Uganda in other capacities and spending more time with family and friends.
So for me this campaign ended as it began: with the love of my family all around; with faith in God and in the country and by the Grace of God my time is coming. I have been so proud to have served this country in various capacities.
Now the political struggle is over and we turn again to the unending struggle for the common good of all Ugandans and for those multitudes around the region who look to us for leadership in the cause of freedom and peace.