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Uganda Opposition Figure Calls for Presidential Term Limits

  • James Butty

Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye has run three times against President Yoweri Museveni and says he will not run again under the current regime.

Uganda opposition leader Kizza Besigye has run three times against President Yoweri Museveni and says he will not run again under the current regime.

The former leader of Uganda’s main opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), said any political survey done in Uganda should be viewed with some suspicion because Ugandans do not have the freedom to freely express their political views.

However, Kizza Besigye said Ugandans have been unanimous since 1995 on the question of presidential term limits.

This comes after a new opinion poll conducted by the Ugandan Daily Monitor newspaper found that 77 percent of Ugandans prefer the re-instatement of presidential term limits ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Besigye, who has challenged President Yoweri Museveni in three elections since 2001, said he’s never going to participate in any elections organized under Mr. Museveni, where the president is both a contestant and judge.

He said the demand for a presidential term limit is important for Ugandans because since independence, the country has never had a peaceful transfer of power.

Call for peaceful elections, regime change

“The question of the desire for [a] term limit of the presidency has been entirely unanimous right from the time the 1995 constitution was made," said Besigye. "And, you can understand why it would have such a unanimous support ... Every leader has come into office with bombs, and every leader has departed being chased by bombs."

Museveni said last month that the country’s opposition would have to wait until 2056 before it can ever win the presidency. His spokesman, Ofwono Opondo, said later that the opposition has no “proper program for Uganda.”

Besigye said the entire political opposition in terms of political parties and civil society organizations are all united in demanding fundamental political reforms ahead of any new election.

“We have to restructure the state in order to create independent institutions of the state that can mediate political processes, so political parties can equitably compete for power. And, unless that happens, any election is a fraud,” Besigye said.

“I’ve made it abundantly clear that I will never participate in any election organized under the current regime ... where you have the military and security institutions being used to fight for the protection of the incumbent,” Besigye said.

Besigye said opposition groups will gather in Kampala around June 7 to review the campaign for a free and fair election in Uganda, and make decisions on how to move forward in challenging what he calls the status quo.
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