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WHEN FACED WITH THE SEVERE PROBLEMS of confronting a dictatorship, some people may lapse back into passive submission. Others, seeing no prospect of achieving democracy, may conclude they must come to terms with the apparently permanent dictatorship, hoping that through “conciliation,” “compromise,” and “negotiations” they might be able to salvage some positive elements and to end the brutalities. On the surface, lacking realistic options, there is appeal in that line of thinking.

Serious struggle against brutal dictatorships is not a pleasant prospect. Why is it necessary to go that route? Can’t everyone just be reasonable and find ways to talk, to negotiate the way to a gradual end to the dictatorship? Can’t the democrats appeal to the dictators’ sense of common humanity and convince them to reduce their domination bit by bit, and perhaps finally to give way completely to the establishment of a democracy?

It is sometimes argued that the truth is not all on one side. Perhaps the democrats have misunderstood the dictators, who may have acted from good motives in difficult circumstances? Or perhaps, some may think, the dictators would gladly remove themselves from the difficult situation facing the country if only given some encouragement and enticements. It may be argued that the dictators could be offered a “win-win” solution, in which everyone gains something. The risks and pain of further struggle could be unnecessary, it may be

argued, if the democratic opposition is only willing to settle the conflict peacefully by negotiations (which may even perhaps be assisted by some skilled individuals or even another government). Would that not be preferable to a difficult struggle, even if it is one conducted by nonviolent struggle rather than by military war?

Merits and limitations of negotiations

Negotiations are a very useful tool in resolving certain types of issues in conflicts and should not be neglected or rejected when they are appropriate. In some situations where no fundamental issues are at stake, and therefore a compromise is acceptable, negotiations can be an important means to settle a conflict.

A labor strike for higher wages is a good example of the appropriate role of negotiations in a conflict: a negotiated settlement may provide an increase somewhere between the sums originally proposed by each of the contending sides. Labor conflicts with legal trade unions are, however, quite different than the conflicts in which the continued existence of a cruel dictatorship or the establishment of political freedom are at stake.

When the issues at stake are fundamental, affecting religious principles, issues of human freedom, or the whole future development of the society, negotiations do not provide a way of reaching a mutually satisfactory solution. On some basic issues there should be no compromise.

Only a shift in power relations in favor of the democrats can adequately safeguard the basic issues at stake. Such a shift will occur through struggle, not negotiations.

This is not to say that negotiations ought never to be used. The point here is that negotiations are not a realistic way to remove a strong dictatorship in the absence of a powerful democratic opposition.

Negotiations, of course, may not be an option at all. Firmly entrenched dictators who feel secure in their position may refuse to negotiate with their democratic opponents. Or, when negotiations have been initiated, the democratic negotiators may disappear and never be heard from again.

Negotiated surrender?

Individuals and groups who oppose dictatorship and favor negotiations will often

have good motives. Especially when a military struggle has continued for years

against a brutal dictatorship without final victory, it is understandable that all the

people of whatever political persuasion would want peace. Negotiations are

especially likely to become an issue among democrats where the dictators have

clear military superiority and the destruction and casualties among one’s own

people are no longer bearable. There will then be a strong temptation to explore

any other route that might salvage some of the democrats’ objectives while

bringing an end to the cycle of violence and counter-violence.

The offer by a dictatorship of “peace” through negotiations with the

democratic opposition is, of course, rather disingenuous. The violence could be

ended immediately by the dictators themselves, if only they would stop waging

war on their own people. They could at their own initiative without any

bargaining restore respect for human dignity and rights, free political prisoners,

end torture, halt military operations, withdraw from the government, and apologize to the people.

When the dictatorship is strong but an irritating resistance exists, the dictators

may wish to negotiate the opposition into surrender under the guise of making

“peace.” The call to negotiate can sound appealing, but grave dangers can be

lurking within the negotiating room.

On the other hand, when the opposition is exceptionally strong and the

dictatorship is genuinely threatened, the dictators may seek negotiations in order

to salvage as much of their control or wealth as possible. In neither case should

the democrats help the dictators achieve their goals.

Democrats should be wary of the traps that may be deliberately built into a

negotiation process by the dictators. The call for negotiations when basic issues

of political liberties are involved may be an effort by the dictators to induce the

democrats to surrender peacefully while the violence of the dictatorship

continues. In those types of conflicts the only proper role of negotiations may

occur at the end of a decisive struggle in which the power of the dictators has

been effectively destroyed and they seek personal safe passage to an

international airport.

Power and justice in negotiations

If this judgment sounds too harsh a commentary on negotiations, perhaps some

of the romanticism associated with them needs to be moderated. Clear thinking

is required as to how negotiations operate.

“Negotiation” does not mean that the two sides sit down together on a basis of

equality and talk through and resolve the differences that produced the conflict

between them. Two facts must be remembered. First, in negotiations it is not the

relative justice of the conflicting views and objectives that determines the

content of a negotiated agreement. Second, the content of a negotiated

agreement is largely determined by the power capacity of each side.

Several difficult questions must be considered. What can each side do at a

later date to gain its objectives if the other side fails to come to an agreement at

the negotiating table? What can each side do after an agreement is reached if the

other side breaks its word and uses its available forces to seize its objectives

despite the agreement?

A settlement is not reached in negotiations through an assessment of the rights

and wrongs of the issues at stake. While those may be much discussed, the real

results in negotiations come from an assessment of the absolute and relative

power situations of the contending groups. What can the democrats do to ensure

that their minimum claims cannot be denied? What can the dictators do to stay in

control and neutralize the democrats? In other words, if an agreement comes, it

is more likely the result of each side estimating how the power capacities of the

two sides compare, and then calculating how an open struggle might end.

Attention must also be given to what each side is willing to give up in order to

reach agreement. In successful negotiations there is compromise, a splitting of

differences. Each side gets part of what it wants and gives up part of its


In the case of extreme dictatorships what are the pro-democracy forces to give

up to the dictators? What objectives of the dictators are the pro-democracy

forces to accept? Are the democrats to give to the dictators (whether a political

party or a military cabal) a constitutionally established permanent role in the

future government? Where is the democracy in that?

Even assuming that all goes well in negotiations, it is necessary to ask: What

kind of peace will be the result? Will life then be better or worse than it would be

if the democrats began or continued to struggle?

“Agreeable” dictators

Dictators may have a variety of motives and objectives underlying their

domination: power, position, wealth, reshaping the society, and the like. One

should remember that none of these will be served if they abandon their control

positions. In the event of negotiations dictators will try to preserve their goals.

Whatever promises offered by dictators in any negotiated settlement, no one

should ever forget that the dictators may promise anything to secure submission

from their democratic opponents, and then brazenly violate those same


If the democrats agree to halt resistance in order to gain a reprieve from

repression, they may be very disappointed. A halt to resistance rarely brings

reduced repression. Once the restraining force of internal and international

opposition has been removed, dictators may even make their oppression and

violence more brutal than before. The collapse of popular resistance often

removes the countervailing force that has limited the control and brutality of the

dictatorship. The tyrants can then move ahead against whomever they wish. “For

the tyrant has the power to inflict only that which we lack the strength to resist,”

wrote Krishnalal Shridharani

Resistance, not negotiations, is essential for change in conflicts where

fundamental issues are at stake. In nearly all cases, resistance must continue to

drive dictators out of power. Success is most often determined not by negotiating

a settlement but through the wise use of the most appropriate and powerful

means of resistance available. It is our contention, to be explored later in more

detail, that political defiance, or nonviolent struggle, is the most powerful means

available to those struggling for freedom.

What kind of peace?

If dictators and democrats are to talk about peace at all, extremely clear thinking

is needed because of the dangers involved. Not everyone who uses the word

“peace” wants peace with freedom and justice. Submission to cruel oppression

and passive acquiescence to ruthless dictators who have perpetrated atrocities on

hundreds of thousands of people is no real peace. Hitler often called for peace,

by which he meant submission to his will. A dictators’ peace is often no more

than the peace of the prison or of the grave.

There are other dangers. Well-intended negotiators sometimes confuse the

objectives of the negotiations and the negotiation process itself. Further,

democratic negotiators, or foreign negotiation specialists accepted to assist in the

negotiations, may in a single stroke provide the dictators with the domestic and

international legitimacy that they had been previously denied because of their

seizure of the state, human rights violations, and brutalities. Without that

desperately needed legitimacy, the dictators cannot continue to rule indefinitely.

Exponents of peace should not provide them legitimacy.

Reasons for hope

As stated earlier, opposition leaders may feel forced to pursue negotiations out of

a sense of hopelessness of the democratic struggle. However, that sense of

powerlessness can be changed. Dictatorships are not permanent. People living

under dictatorships need not remain weak, and dictators need not be allowed to

remain powerful indefinitely. Aristotle noted long ago, “… [O]ligarchy and

tyranny are shorter-lived than any other constitution… [A]ll round, tyrannies

have not lasted long.”Modern dictatorships are also vulnerable. Their weaknesses can be aggravated and the dictators’ power can be disintegrated.

Recent history shows the vulnerability of dictatorships, and reveals that they

can crumble in a relatively short time span: whereas ten years – 1980–1990 –

were required to bring down the Communist dictatorship in Poland, in East

Germany and Czechoslovakia in 1989 it occurred within weeks. In El Salvador

and Guatemala in 1944 the struggles against the entrenched brutal military

dictators required approximately two weeks each. The militarily powerful

regime of the Shah in Iran was undermined in a few months. The Marcos

dictatorship in the Philippines fell before people power within weeks in 1986:

the United States government quickly abandoned President Marcos when the

strength of the opposition became apparent. The attempted hard-line coup in the

Soviet Union in August 1991 was blocked in days by political defiance.

Thereafter, many of its long dominated constituent nations in only days, weeks,

and months regained their independence.

The old preconception that violent means always work quickly and nonviolent means always require vast time is clearly not valid. Although much time may be required for changes in the underlying situation and society, the actual fight against a dictatorship sometimes occurs relatively quickly by nonviolent struggle.

Negotiations are not the only alternative to a continuing war of annihilation on the one hand and capitulation on the other. The examples just cited, illustrate that another option exists for those who want both peace and freedom: political defiance.

An extract from From dictatorship to Democracy.

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Hajj Ashraf Semwogerere pens down a letter to H.E.Bobi Wine and Mathias Mpuuga



bobi wine mpuuga

Asalaam alaikum.


The Cuban revolution.

General Arnaldo Tomás Ochoa Sánchez was chosen by Defense Minister Raúl Castro to become the head of Cuba’s Western Army. Since this branch of the military protects Cuba’s capital city, Havana, and its top leaders and installations, the position would have made him the third most powerful military figure on the island, after Commander in Chief Fidel Castro and General Raúl Castro (today Secretary general of Cuban Communist party.).

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What was expected to be a routine background check prior to the announcement of his appointment began to unravel, however, when at appointment, the government accused Ochoa of corruption, which included, but was not limited to, the sale of diamonds and ivory from Angola and the misappropriation of weapons in Nicaragua. As the investigation continued, links were found to other military and Ministry of the Interior officials who were engaged in even more serious crimes: taking pay-offs from South American drug-traffickers, including Pablo Escobar and General Manuel Noriega in exchange for letting them use Cuban territorial waters for drug drops and pick-ups.

General Raúl Castro, who was very close to Ochoa personally, later said he pleaded with Ochoa on a number of occasions to come clean and reveal everything so they could move forward. When Ochoa refused to cooperate, on June 12, the Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces announced his arrest and investigation for serious acts of corruption, dishonest use of economic resources, and abetting drug trafficking.

When Ochoa sat before Fidel Castro in the President’s office, he humbly accepted to have betrayed the revolution and asked the commander in chief to do what was necessary to keep the revolution strong. Castro signed his death warrant.

At dawn on July 13, 1989, Ochoa was executed by a firing squad along with three senior officers of the Ministry of the Armed Forces and Ministry of the Interior , after a military court convicted them of drug smuggling.

Meanwhile, the Cuban revolution grew stronger despite the fact that their major rival United States was a superpower and a stone throw away from their island.


During the NRM/NRA bush war, several Kadogos mostly from Buganda were executed for just stealing chicken or Cassava of Wanainch. This was the bush war code of conduct. It acted as a deterrent to other rebel soldiers to instill discipline. Those who were around in 1986 when NRA stormed Kampala will tell you how well disciplined these soldiers were.

Today, there is a crisis in the NUP revolution. Where a high ranking Soldier like Ochoa of Cuba has betrayed the revolution. In the NRA bush language, the soldier has stolen from Wanainch.

For the Revolution to stand its time, I beg Honorable Mathias to act like Owekitiibwa and tell the principal to do what is necessary exactly like what Ochoa did. And to Principal Kyagulanyi, please do like Federal Castro. Please sign that warrant. The revolution is just beginning to keep its code of conduct. nobody should be above it. A revolution without discipline turns into banditry. What Dr Apollo Militon Obote had referred to NRA.

DP and FDC have a lot for reference.

Hajj Ashraf Semwogerere.

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Justin: Rt. Hon. Mathias Mpuuga asked to Resign After Admitting Taking Irregular Service Award 500 Million



Former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga asked to Resign by the NUP party to resign from the position of Commissioner of Parliament after admitting to having taken part in an irregular service award amounting to UGX 500 million.

Mathias Mpuuga asked to Resign
Former Leader of Opposition in Parliament Mathias Mpuuga

There is an ongoing online protest under the hashtag #UgandaParliamentExhibition. The protest aims at exposing the massive corruption, abuse of office and gross mismanagement of public affairs by the leadership of Parliament and other leaders.

Unfortunately, the protest has not only revealed grand corruption on the side of NRM leaders. Some leaders on the opposition side have had serious allegations of corruption leveled against them. Specifically, our former Leader of the Opposition in Parliament and current Parliamentary Commissioner, Rt. Hon. Mathias Mpuuga alongside three other Parliamentary Commissioners have been accused of irregularly awarding themselves huge sums of tax-payers’ money on the pretext of “Service Awards”. Under the scheme, Rt. Hon. Mpuuga was allocated 500,000,000/= (Five Hundred Million Uganda Shillings).

On Wednesday 28th February 2024, the President convened an urgent meeting comprised of senior leaders of the Party including all Deputy Presidents and some of our senior legislators. At the meeting, Rt. Hon. Mpuuga admitted that he indeed took part in this wrong doing and apologised for the same. In light of this, he was strongly advised that the moral thing to do in the circumstances is to step down from his role as Parliamentary Commissioner with immediate effect.

The nation will recall that the values of the National Unity Platform are Discipline, Reliability, Inclusiveness, Integrity, Patriotism and Service. All actions of corruption and abuse of office go contrary to these values. They also go contrary to the Integrity Oath which every leader of the Party swore at the start of this term.

We therefore ask our leaders at all levels to do self-reflection and recommit themselves to these values and the Oath they took to shun and fight corruption in all its forms.

Mathias Mpuuga asked to Resign
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What it means for Bobi Wine to meet Global influencers



An in-depth analysis of What it means for Bobi Wine to meet Global influencers

Bobi Wine’s Meetings with Global Influencers:

Bobi Wine, the Ugandan people’s President, has recently embarked on a series of high-profile meetings with globally renowned figures spanning various domains. From policy makers and activists to iconic filmmakers and acclaimed actors, his interactions transcend mere celebrity photo opportunities and represent strategic strides towards amplifying his advocacy and the broader movement for social change in Uganda. These engagements come in the wake of the critically acclaimed documentary, “Bobi Wine The People’s President,” which has garnered significant acclaim and recognition on the global stage.

During the Cinema for peace awards where Bobi Wine the people’s president won the Best Political film of the year

The gripping documentary which unmasks and exposes Museveni’s repressive tactics to cling onto power also chronicles the remarkable journey of Bobi Wine, a pop star-turned-politician, as he strives to dismantle Uganda’s brutal dictatorship under dictator Museveni’s oppressive rule. The film’s profound impact and resonance have propelled it to numerous accolades globally, including an Oscar nomination and the prestigious Best Political Film of the Year award at the Cinema for Peace Awards in Berlin, Germany. This recognition has undoubtedly elevated Bobi Wine’s profile, opening doors to a multitude of platforms and enabling him to meet and engage with influential figures from diverse spheres.

At the forefront of these engagements is Bobi Wine’s pursuit of visibility and outreach. By aligning himself with influential personalities, he taps into their extensive reach and platform, exposing his cause to new audiences that may have previously been oblivious to the challenges plaguing his nation under Dictator Museveni. Celebrities and renowned figures possess the power to captivate the masses, and by leveraging these connections, Bobi Wine can rally support from unexpected quarters, fostering a global consciousness about the dire need for reform in Uganda.

Moreover, the documentary’s success has facilitated Bobi Wine’s ability to forge vital relationships with key decision makers and fellow activists. With the documentary serving as a catalyst, he can engage in dialogues with policymakers and government officials, advocating for change at the highest echelons of power and pushing for legislative and administrative reforms that strike at the root causes of social injustices. Simultaneously, by collaborating with fellow activists who have been inspired by his story, Bobi Wine can strengthen the solidarity within the movement, sharing strategies, experiences, and amplifying their collective voice for change.

The engagements with iconic filmmakers and actors, many of whom have likely been exposed to Bobi Wine’s journey through the documentary, present a unique opportunity for him to leverage the power of storytelling and artistic expression. Through joint initiatives, public statements, and collaborative projects, these creative minds can shed light on the harsh realities of life in Uganda under the Museveni oppressive regime, capturing the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide. Their ability to craft narratives and evoke emotions can serve as a powerful catalyst for raising awareness and igniting a sense of urgency for action.

Significantly, the documentary’s success has also opened doors to invaluable resources and expertise that can bolster Bobi Wine’s activism. From logistical assistance to strategic guidance and networking opportunities, the connections he forges with influential figures who have been moved by his story can provide a range of opportunities that can sustain and propel the momentum of the people power movement.

What it means for Bobi Wine to meet Global influencers

Additionally, Bobi Wine’s engagement with global influencers extends beyond the confines of individual meetings. By cultivating long-term relationships and collaborations, he can tap into their respective spheres of influence, amplifying his message through joint initiatives, public appearances, and social media campaigns. This synergy can create a ripple effect, inspiring others who have been captivated by the documentary to join the cause and lending credibility to the movement’s objectives.

In the broader context, the success of “Bobi Wine: The People’s President” and the subsequent engagements with global figures represent a recognition of the interconnectedness of struggles for justice and human rights across borders. By aligning himself with like-minded individuals and organizations, many of whom have been moved by his story, Bobi Wine can foster a sense of global solidarity, transcending national boundaries and inspiring others to stand in solidarity with the plight of the Ugandan people.

Bobi Wine’s meetings with these global icons are not mere celebrity endorsements but calculated moves to expand his fight for social change in Uganda. By leveraging the influence, resources, and expertise of these individuals who have been touched by his remarkable journey, he can amplify his message, build solidarity, advocate for meaningful reforms, and inspire a global movement that demands justice and upholds the fundamental rights of all people.

What you need to know

  • – Yoweri Museveni has been president of Uganda since seizing power in 1986 after a five-year guerrilla war. He has ruled the country for over 38 years through a combination of political repression, constitutional amendments to extend term limits, and suppressing opposition.
  • – Uganda is essentially an authoritarian state with Museveni and his political party, the National Resistance Movement, dominating all branches of government and major institutions. Elections are marred by intimidation, violence, and lack of a level playing field.
  • – Political opposition, dissent, and criticism of the government are routinely suppressed through arrests, harassment, torture, and extrajudicial killings of opposition figures, activists, and journalists. Freedom of expression, assembly, and the press are severely restricted.
  • -The government has cracked down brutally on protests and the political opposition, including conducting a violent crackdown on supporters of Bobi Wine during the 2021 presidential election campaign in which over 150 people were killed.
  • – Human rights defenders, civil society organizations, NGOs, and activists face constant harassment, detentions, office raids and shutdowns by security forces under accusations of destabilizing the regime.
  • – Entrenched corruption, nepotism, and abuse of public resources are rampant within the government, security services, and the public sector, enriching Museveni’s inner circle and patronage networks.
  • – Uganda under Museveni, poverty levels remain high, and wealth is concentrated among the ruling elite. Health, education, and social services are poorly funded and inadequate for most citizens.
  • – Museveni wields control over the security forces through leaders loyal to him. The military and police are implicated in human rights abuses, extrajudicial killings, torture, and cracking down violently on dissent.

In essence, Museveni rules as an authoritarian leader, suppressing opposition, dissent, and civil liberties to maintain his grip on power, while also presiding over widespread corruption, economic inequality, and human rights abuses by security forces. This has fueled calls for democratic reforms by the opposition.


JBMuwonge – Social Activist

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