In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni’s decision to re-appoint Badru Kiggunda as chair of the country’s Electoral Commission has been met by violent protests from opposition supporters.
Police fired tear gas Tuesday at opposition demonstrators against the reappointment.
The Chair of the opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Youth League called Kiggundu an enemy of the people and demanded his resignation for incompetence.
Kiggundu was accused of rigging the 2006 elections in favor of President Museveni. But he told VOA his commission is proud of the way it handled Uganda’s past elections.
“We are a very new nation in multi-party democracy. This is something our part of the world is not yet used to in terms of what it means to compete. When the adversaries win in bi-elections which were conducted over the years, then I’m the best kid on the block. But when they lose an election or a bi-election, then I’m the worst kid,” he said.
Kiggunda described as naïve demands by the chair of the opposition FDC Youth League for Kiggunda to resign. He said the group is not his appointing authority.
“Yes, I received the letter. It is not protesting. It is actually demanding that I hang up my towel as of yesterday, and I thought that was naïve because that youth group is not my appointing authority,” Kiggunda said.
He said Uganda has a legal framework, and if the opposition is dissatisfied with his reappointment, then they should take legal recourse.
Kiggunda rejected criticism that his reappointment by President Museveni means that his commission is likely to favor the government in the event of an electoral dispute.
“In all the bi-elections which we have run, I have never had to side with a side which never won. I have always declared whoever came through as the winner. I’ve been as straight forward; I have been as ethical. I won’t do anything contrary to the law,” Kiggunda said.
Opposition FDC leader Kizza Besigye has called for electoral reforms before the 2011 elections, including the appointment of an independent elections commission and the removal of the military from monitoring elections.
Kiggunda said his commission has also put forth its own electoral reforms, some of them similar to those suggested by Mr. Besigye.
“After consulting and deliberating with many other stakeholders, I compiled about 18 areas of possible amendments and submitted them to government two years ago. The proposals which Dr. Besigye is talking about were made three months ago. Some of them are like mine, but not all of them,” Kiggunda said.
He said he hopes the Ugandan government would address the proposed reforms by February 2010.
Some opposition critics have suggested that unless Uganda makes progress in electoral reforms, it could see post-election violence similar to Kenya and Zimbabwe experiences.
Kiggunda said he is concerned about the possibility of post-election violence, but that he doesn’t believe that what happened in Kenya can happen in Uganda.
“We have a totally different legal environment. In our country, petitions, when arise, they are settled in court. In many of those countries, petitions are not heard of,” he said.
Kiggunda said his commission has rolled out an electoral roadmap which would ensure that the 2011 elections would be free and fair.