Uganda will have to wait five more years for democracy. But initial reaction to the military government's decision this week to stay in power has been mild. With no new constitution, an ongoing civil war, and an economy in shambles, the Ugandan Parliament unanimously voted for a five-year extension of tenure for itself and former rebel leader, President Yoweri Museveni.
The move has ``raised some eyebrows,'' according to one Ugandan contacted after the decision. Many Ugandans are concerned that Mr. Museveni has broken his promise to hold presidential elections in 1990.
But overall, reaction has seemed almost passive.
``There are more important issues here - hunger, poverty - although the question of democracy is important, too,'' said Murindwa Rutanga, a private agricultural researcher in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
But the editor of a private newspaper which has close ties to the government said some people fault the government's failure to consult people at local levels. The government apparently ignored the grass-roots system of elected civilian officials it had created when it made the extension decision.
``The local level would have given the extension approval,'' said Wafula Oguttu, editor of Topic. Local people are happy with road building and other projects the government has carried out since 1986, he said.
However, Mr. Oguttu says, some Ugandans question why the government needs five more years in power instead of the three years it says is required to rewrite the Constitution.
Some Ugandans have been critical of what they say is the president's failure to put more people from outside his own region in top military posts. It was a concentration of power, to the exclusion of people from large sections of the country, that helped fan earlier wars in Uganda.
Several hundred thousand civilians were massacred by the government under the regimes of Idi Amin and Milton Obote in the 1970s and '80s. Museveni came to power in a 1986 coup.