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Ugandans Worry Insurrection In D.C. May Affect Elections In Their Country

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Uganda is in the middle of a contentious presidential race featuring a young singer challenging the 35-year rule of President Yoweri Museveni. Election day is just a week away, but today the insurrection in Washington was the talk of the town. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: On Ugandan radio and TV, I hear some gloating. Ha, U.S. democracy is just like the rest of us. But that's not what I hear from people I speak to in downtown Kampala.

MATT BISH: What I saw yesterday was very, very - you know, like, disappointment at its highest level.

PERALTA: That is 45-year-old Matt Bish.

BISH: When you see something like that happen, you start thinking everything's going to trickle down to our country.

PERALTA: He says Ugandan leaders now have a trump card. If the election goes wrong, if a crackdown turns violent, a lecture from the United States will mean much less.

BISH: So it'll be like, you first. Go back and clean up your mess before you come down here and tell us how to run our business.

PERALTA: Hadia Serenjogi, who is 25, says when she was watching videos of the American chaos, she felt sad because it was clear President Trump had lost and the transition of power was in order.

HADIA SERENJOGI: So when a person wins, they get into office, and the other one gets out. That's how life is. You can't die in office.

PERALTA: She says this knowing full well that she's only known one president her entire life. But with less than a week to go before elections, President Yoweri Museveni is facing the toughest challenge of his 35-year rule. Bobi Wine, a young singer-turned-politician, has revived the opposition and revived this idea that maybe Uganda could see a peaceful transfer of power. But watching an assault on American democracy like that, says Serenjogi, shook her.

SERENJOGI: It's scary to talk about democracy now here. Being able to recognize a real democracy is kind of a dream. Yes, it's kind of a dream because even the people who say they have a real democracy are like that. What about us?

PERALTA: What happened at the Capitol makes it seem like democracy is always elusive, that it's this thing that could never be realized, she says. And that's what scares her. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Kampala.

(SOUNDBITE OF RYUICHI SAKAMOTO'S "JOURNEY") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.