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Uganda Opposition Vows United Front Against Museveni

  • James Butty

FILE - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives for the opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

FILE - Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni arrives for the opening ceremony of the 22nd Ordinary Session of the African Union summit in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said he will defeat the opposition in 2016, even if it is united under a single candidate.

Museveni reportedly told a Jinja radio talk show Sunday the opposition has proved to be inept and immature in its handling of critical national issues.

A recent meeting of opposition political parties and civil society groups resolved not to resort to violence to end Museveni rule. He has been in power since 1986.

The Free and Fair Election Campaign in Uganda also agreed to field a single candidate in future elections beginning with the next byelections.

Olara Otunnu, president of the Uganda People’s Congress and convener of the meeting said, despite calls from a growing number of Ugandans for violence, the group prefers a change of government through democratic means.

“Even though there’s tremendous frustration in the country, tremendous bitterness, and young people in particular are saying, ‘Give the guns, don’t waste time talking with Yoweri Museveni, he only understands the language of the gun,’ we have taken the position that we shall not pursue the option of violence. Rather, we shall use the method of positive nonviolent means in seeking to effect democratic and peaceful change in Uganda,” he said.

Otunnu said the “deep sense of frustration” created by Museveni is widespread across Uganda. But, he said opposition parties have made a conscious decision to demand change through the ballot box.

He said the group also resolved to speak with one voice, including fielding a single opposition candidate in future elections.

Otunnu said the platform of the Free and Fair Election Campaign is to demand a new electoral system in Uganda, not to reform the old system.

“Reform assumes that you are going to change that which is legitimate, which is functioning, but which needs some corrective measures. In this particular case in Uganda, we are talking about a system that is wholesale fraudulent and wholesale part of the NRM (National Resistance Movement) rigging machine.

The former leader of Uganda’s main opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change headed by perennial candidate Kizza Besigye, said he will never again participate in any elections organized under Museveni, where the president is both a contestant and judge.

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

Besigye called for a presidential term limit because, he said, since independence, Uganda has never had a peaceful transfer of power.

He has, in the past, said electoral reforms should include the appointment of an independent elections commission and the removal of the military from monitoring elections.
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