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Call for Uganda's Opposition Parties to Work Together


In Uganda’s presidential elections in February, Kizza Besigye lost to incumbent Yoweri Museveni, earning just 37% of the vote. Some political analysts have blamed his defeat on the failure of the Group of Six, an opposition group, to field a candidate. Besigye is a long-time presence in Uganda’s political sphere and the current president of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC). He told the Voice of America that Uganda’s electorate wants the opposition parties to cooperate.

“…The political environment in Uganda is still very restrictive to the functioning of a multi-party political system, and therefore we need to continue to work together to ensure that this political environment changes and that we can all enjoy an equitable, free environment to operate in the political arena in Uganda.”

Besigye expressed regrets that the opposition was unable to field candidates on the presidential, parliamentary, and local government levels in last February’s election. He called that an error that worked against the opposition parties.

“And so there is a strong desire within the electorate, within membership of our parties, that we should work together to change the overall environment…. And it is that desire that I am now pleading to, so that we can put pressure on the respective political parties for us to come together.”

Besigye, who is on trial for treason, says the trial has been proceeding slowly. He says the government has presented only three out of sixty witnesses so far.

“Therefore at this rate it would take, I think, a couple of years before the trial is concluded. However, the trial was suspended last week at the request of our legal [counsel] to allow us an opportunity to refer certain issues to the constitutional court.”

Besigye says among those issues is the government’s decision to allow commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army, an organization he refers to as a terrorist group, to testify against him in court.

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