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Uganda Opposition Leader Questions Credibility of 2011 Vote

  • Peter Clottey

The leader of Uganda’s main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party said failure of the electoral commission to organize a credible presidential election next year could plunge the country into chaos.

Dr. Kizza Besigye said his party will not participate in fraudulent elections.

“Of course, it’s the last thing we want to have. We don’t want to have chaos at all, now or after [elections]. But, once you don’t have credible elections, normally, the outcome is that you will have chaos, once you have disputed elections. And, it has been witnessed in many countries,” he said.

Uganda's main opposition FDC leader, Dr. Kizza Besigye

Uganda's main opposition FDC leader, Dr. Kizza Besigye

Kizza Besigye, a former ally of incumbent President Yoweri Museveni, resigned from the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party in 2001 to form the FDC party establishing himself as Uganda’s main opposition leader.

Besigye said Uganda has a history of fraudulent elections that have led to violence.

“Indeed, this government of NRM is a result of chaos that resulted after rigged elections of 1980 in our country. President Museveni contested the outcome and went to the bush to fight, and that war which lasted five years, consumed more than more than half a million Ugandans who died out of the violence arising out of [the] rigged elections of 1980,” Besigye said.

Opposition groups have often rejected previous election results saying the electoral commission is biased towards President Museveni’s NRM party – a charge supporters of the ruling party sharply deny.

But, Besigye said a court ruled that Uganda’s last election was not credible.

“The last two elections were petitioned in the Supreme Court of Uganda. And there is a finding, a unanimous finding, of the Supreme Court that those elections were not free and fair, that the electoral commission which organized them was incompetent and biased (towards NRM). Now, these are grave findings by a Supreme Court of the country,” Besigye said.

Incumbent President Yoweri Muzeveni

Incumbent President Yoweri Muzeveni

He also expressed concern that the re-appointment of the same members of the electoral commission that organized the previous two elections will undermine the credibility of the 2011 vote.

But, supporters of the ruling party rejected the accusation as without merit and urged the opposition leader to channel his energy into campaigning ahead of the election.

President Museveni, who has been in power since 1986, is likely to run for a fourth term after amending the constitution that removed term limits. He is heavily favored to win the election despite a stiff opposition challenge.

Opposition leader Besigye is also calling for the current electoral commission to be reconstituted to ensure a credible vote in 2011.