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Uganda Opposition Decries Intimidation, Harassment Ahead of Elections

  • Peter Clottey

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, left, being interviewed by a journalist, after he was nominated to run for presidential elections; Forum for Democratic Change’s Dr. Kizza Besigye after being nominated for presidential elections in the capital city Kampa

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, left, being interviewed by a journalist, after he was nominated to run for presidential elections; Forum for Democratic Change’s Dr. Kizza Besigye after being nominated for presidential elections in the capital city Kampa

A leading member of Uganda’s opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) said his party and other opposition groups are being prevented from using the state broadcaster as well as other private radio and television stations for their campaigns ahead of the scheduled 18th February 2011 general elections.

Jerome Ndiho said supporters of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party have also been harassing and intimidating opposition partisans in the run up to the election.

“Most people in the opposition are not given chance to campaign directly. There (is) some intimidation here and there so they find it hard to run their campaigns whenever they want. We have some RDC’s those are Residential District Commissioners… who work with the government intelligence section so they don’t give us time to operate the way we want,” said Ndiho.

“Once you are in the opposition… you are not allowed to use the place (media outlets). If you happen to use it, they will edit (out) all your ideas. If you are to use a radio, they will give you some little time. Sometimes you are not allowed to use the radio because most of the radio (stations) are owned by those people who are pro-government.”

Supporters of the ruling NRM party have rejected the accusations, saying they are baseless and without merit.

They contend that several opposition parties have been campaigning freely and have not been prevented from using the various radio and television networks across the country for their campaigns.

But, opposition member Ndiho said despite the difficulties his FDC party will not be subdued by the intimidations and threats from the government vowing to defeat President Yoweri Museveni’s government in next year’s vote.

“Not all the opposition (parties) are allowed freely (to campaign). I tell you, about 300 miles outside Kampala there is intimidation and if you want to talk the RDC will not allow you to. When you go to the people in the villages, they will tell them don’t allow campaigns for this fellow. If you are there, they will arrest you or (threaten to)…kill you and the like.”

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