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Uganda Opposition Leader Wants Urgent Electoral Reforms


The leader of Uganda's main opposition party Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) said everything must be done to correct what he called the imbalances in the country's electoral system before the next election which is 18 months from now.

In 2006 Kizza Besigye lost a Supreme Court petition against the re-election of President Yoweri Musevini.

He said pressure must be mounted on the Museveni government to make the necessary changes before Uganda degenerates into electoral chaos like Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Besigye is in Kenya's capital, Nairobi to attend a conference organized by the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy.

He told VOA he is still virtually a prisoner since his 2006 rape and treason trial and the subsequent seizure of his passport.

"One of the conditions that was imposed on me in order to grant me bail was to deposit my passport in the High Court of Uganda and not to leave the country unless I was authorized by the High Court through an application to the court for that purpose," he said.

Besigye said each time he wants to travel out of the country his lawyers must file an application supported by affidavits sworn by each of his sureties.

Even with that he said the passport is only given to him for the duration of his trip abroad and he must return the passport to the Ugandan High Court upon his return.

"I am still a prisoner; I am only out of prison on bail. So if my bail is cancelled today, I will head straight back to prison. And one condition for granting me that bail was indeed I surrender my passport," Besigye said.

Besigye said he does not know when the charges against him would be dropped, but he said they were politically motivated.

"I was arrested and charged just ahead of the 2006 general election after my party had indeed nominated me as their candidate in that election…since the election, the court processes have gone silence. I will not be surprised at all if they were all to be resurrected as we approach the next election which is only in about 18 months time," Besigye said.

Besigye said he was considering making a formal representation to the Ugandan Judicial Service Commission which oversees the delivery of judicial services to look into what he called his predicament.

Alongside what he called the infringement on his rights, Besigye said there is a broader problem of electoral imbalances which he said needs urgent reform before the next election.

"We must have an independent electoral commission and we must get the military out of elections. We are trying to rally support for pressure to be mounted on government to attend to these vital areas before our country also degenerates into chaos like many of our neighbors have experienced," he said.

Besigye said his party has written to the countries of the east African community and would soon launch a national and international appeal to bring pressure on the Museveni government to institute the necessary electoral reforms before the 2011 general election.


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