Thursday, 30 August 2007

Makerere Chancellorship (Ugandan Presidency) Race

Following the decision of the current Prime Minister, Prof. Apollo Nsibambi, not to renew his contract as Chancellor of Makerere an intriguing selection process has taken place. Of course the position is largely ceremonial but that has not stopped a bitter fight breaking out between the two leading candidates, a fight that is closely inter-twined with what is known here as National Resistance Movement (the governing party), 'succession politics'. This is the manoeuvring by senior figures in the NRM to try and gain prime position to take over from President Museveni when he decides to retire.

Vice-President Prof. Bukenya (see picture above) was initially excluded from the Chancellorship race as he was deemed 'part of the President's office', and as the President has the final say on the appointment this was seen as unfair. However, his supporters, backed by the Attorney General, had him reinstated in the process, blaming a 'mafia' of senior NRM officials who did not want Bukenya to have the publicity boost and kudos that would come with the position. Essentially they were trying to prevent Bukenya building up his power base for a tilt at the Presidency. Having been reinstated the interview panel then selected him as one of the two candidates to be put forward to a vote by University Council, the other being Prof. Kagonyera, a Vet backed by the Security Minister.

Yesterday evening, however, the University Council failed to even reach a vote and thus the two names will go forward to the President for a final decision, without a recommendation from the council one way or the other. This leaves the President in a position whereby he either has to effectively give a vote of no confidence in his own Vice or risk giving one of his potential challengers a significant boost and angering several senior ministers who have backed Kagonyera. The political nature of the contest is in stark contrast to anything that would happen at a UK university and certainly makes it more exciting. My guess is that the President will have no choice but to appoint his VP but he is a man capable of surprising everyone. I'll keep you posted...

No comments: