A leading member of Uganda’s main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) says the party is demanding the immediate release of 50 women who were arrested Monday for calling for the resignation of the electoral commission chief Badru Kiggundu.
John Kazoora said Ugandans have lost confidence in Mr. Kiggundu’s ability to organize a credible election scheduled for 2011.
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni
“These women numbering about 50 wanted to hand over a petition to the chairman of the electoral commission demanding that he should resign on the following reasons; that one (the) Supreme Court of Uganda has found him and his team incompetent and therefore could not be seen to hold a free and fair election, come 2011. Secondly, he was elected under the so-called Movement System therefore he is a cadre of the Movement Party. Since we moved to multi-party, they were saying no, you cannot be a referee while you are a partisan,” he said.
The detained women were part of the Interparty Cooperation (IPC), a group seeking more democratic reforms ahead of next year’s general election.
Main opposition FDC Chairman Kizza Besigye
They were protesting the re-appointment of Dr. Badru Kiggundu, chairman of the electoral commission who they claimed is incapable of organizing a transparent election.
Kazoora said Kiggundu undermined the credibility of the last election.
“The last election we had given him (the) benefit of the doubt and he failed that benefit. So, the women were expressing that concern. They just wore their black T-shirts with words, women for peace so when they approached the gates of the electoral commission, they were barred from entering the offices,” Kazoora said.
Grace Turyagumanawe, deputy director of police operations is quoted as saying that the detained women will be charged with criminal trespass for illegally entering into the offices of the electoral commission -- a charge the women’s group rejected.