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Post Pandemic: Democracy will be tested. (The World in 2021)

| Sunday, 10 January 2021, 10:29
| World

So, behind the headlines what are the other moments you should be watching out for in the year ahead?

Politics
| Representational Photo, Credit: https://www.weavee.co/
In 2021, democracy will be especially tested. There will be an abundance of elections many postponed from 2020 by the pandemic and in fragile democratic autocratic leaders will use the excuse of covid-19 to crack down on opposition.

Such as in Uganda, which is due to hold its presidential election in January. Maria is a 25-year-old activist, who is campaigning for the opposition candidate Bobi Wine, But Ugandan authorities have banned rallies because of covid-19.

She said "They are not implementing covid guidelines with people who live day-to-day lives. They are only implementing these guidelines with opposition politicians, that is all, so it is just an excuse".



At a recent rally, police arrested Bobi Wine accusing him of flouting covid-19 restrictions. When they were arresting Bobi Wine, what they did was to first block all the vehicles that were around and only his vehicle was allowed to be in front. They pepper-sprayed all his bodyguards; those were the personal bodyguards not the ones the Electoral Commission gave to us. They pepper-sprayed them and they were beaten.

Protests broke out, almost 1,000 people were arrested and 45 were killed. Crackdowns on opposition politicians are not just happening in Uganda.

Since the pandemic started democracy and human rights have deteriorated in 80 countries according to Freedom House, a think-tank, the largest number are in Africa.

This is certainly a problem in Africa because there are many countries there that have made a partial transition towards democracy and respect for human rights but because it's fairly recent and the institutions that protect it are not particularly strong there's always the danger of backsliding.

Uganda's president, Yoweri Museveni has been in power for almost 35 years. In 2017 he changed the country's constitution to allow him to serve a sixth term. The pandemic has made it easier to block opposition and dissent. All we want is our freedom back. All we want is to change power and so that power comes back to the people and the institutions that must protect the people, that is all we want.



Maria can't even campaign on social media, Government rules brought in 2020 require many internet users to register with a regulator before they can publish anything online. Across the world, 91 countries have experienced new or increased restrictions on the news media, as a result of the pandemic.

"We think there's a real danger that democracy will continue to retreat in 2021. We're hoping that eventually we'll be able to get widespread vaccines out there and that will make it easier for people to gather together and to organise, which is what you need to be able to do, if you're going to resist tyranny.

We must campaign so that we win this election. We are ready to fight for our victory. It is either bullets or a ballot." - Maria

 

 

 

 

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