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Uganda Opposition Leader Survives Car Crash

  • Peter Clottey

The leader of the opposition Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) has described as a miraculous escape a late Monday accident in which his car somersaulted several times, while he was on the campaign trail ahead of Friday’s general elections.

Ambassador Olara Otunnu, who was also a former U.N. undersecretary-general for children’s affairs, told VOA, although there were no fatalities after the accident, his personal assistant was badly injured, while the rest of the occupants suffered minor injuries.

“We were involved in a very nasty accident about 7:30 p.m. local time in Uganda. We hit something and our car overturned several times, about five times. [The car was] completely mangled. It’s a miracle that we are here. All four of us in the car survived. My assistant is the worst affected. She is in great pain and she may have broken some bones,” said Otunnu.

“We are in a hospital where there are no X-rays. We are waiting for an ambulance to evacuate us to a hospital where there would be the necessary facilities to [conduct] more tests.”

Some supporters of the UPC say they suspect foul play aimed at undermining their campaign efforts. But, Otunnu said it was too early to claim the accident was an attempt by his opponents to thwart his campaign.

“I cannot reconstruct everything that happened. I simply remember [that] I closed my eyes for a few minutes; I wasn’t asleep. But, [what] I recall was us turning up and down several times. When we came to a standstill, everything was upside down. We could barely find the doors or the windows, and it took some time to get us out. All I can tell you is that is what happened and, beyond that, it’s too early for me to say,” said Otunnu.

Otunnu pulled out of an opposition coalition formed to challenge President Yoweri Museveni in Friday’s vote saying some of the parties reneged on an agreement that stipulates that they demand the electoral commission be replaced before the elections.

Ugandan opposition groups have rejected previous election results saying the electoral commission is biased toward Mr. Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) party – a charge supporters of the ruling party deny.

President Museveni’s opponents have expressed concern that his re-appointment of the same members of the electoral commission that organized the previous two elections will undermine the credibility of the upcoming vote.

Analysts say the withdrawal of the UPC from the coalition will undermine opposition efforts at providing a stiff challenge in the presidential and parliamentary elections. Otunnu said the vote will be rigged unless there is an independent electoral commission that is determined to organize a credible election.