Politicians must put country first
Posted Friday, October 11 2013 at 01:00
Unlike most of the previous Independence Day fetes, the country followed the 51st Independence Day anniversary in Rukungiri on Wednesday a little closely. For the first time since he fell out with President Museveni, opposition leader Dr Kizza Besigye was to grace a national event presided over by his political nemesis.
To appreciate the magnitude of this action, one needs to reflect on how polarising the contest between Mr Museveni and Dr Besigye has been in the past 13 years. There is no love lost between these two men who have come to define Uganda’s political terrain in the past decade. The condemnation of each other has been steep—at times boiling to outright hostility. Their respective camps have followed suit.
So, when President Museveni earlier in the week indicated that he was willing to work with his opponent and Dr Besigye’s later confirmation that he would attend a national function he has snubbed in the past, the country began to believe that the moment for political tolerance and placing the country above personal interests could just be around the corner.
And to make good on his promise, Dr Besigye indeed appeared in Rukungiri Stadium, the venue for the national celebrations. However, the hope was short-lived after he stormed out when the master of ceremonies reportedly made partisan statements.
We believe Dr Besigye’s premature exit from the venue sent the wrong message. The MC of the day was not right to make partisan remarks at a national event but for Dr Besigye to get unnerved by that and walk away, he perhaps blew the opportunity to actually stand out as a nationalist.
There are moments when the call for national interest should surpass individual concerns. We saw it in Kenya recently after the Westgate attack. Politicians put their differences aside to unite a country in grief. The sight of President Uhuru Kenyatta and his chief rival Raila Odinga sharing a podium and rallying their country together was as telling as it was uniting.
Politicians must know that there will come a time when country must come first. When this happens, it is vital to downplay personal interests.