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Uganda Opposition Figure Urges Government to Help End Harassment

  • Peter Clottey

A prominent member of the opposition Uganda People’s Congress party has called on President Yoweri Museveni’s government to help end what he described as “institutionalized harassment” ahead of next year’s general elections.

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni
Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni

Robert Kasunu, who was recently released from prison after he was charged with sedition, said some officials of the government are intolerant of dissenting views despite their claim of embracing democracy and the rule of law.

“It is very provocative that the government of Uganda is going ahead with its defective electoral commission to announce the roadmap for the 2011 elections. The terrain is not leveled at all because many members of the opposition are still targeted…and I feel that the opposition is not ready and we don’t have any confidence in the current electoral commission, and going ahead with free and fair elections which are transparent at the same time,” he said.

Kasunu’s comments came after Uganda’s Electoral Commission announced Thursday that it was setting October 25 and 26 as official nomination dates for presidential aspirants to submit their required documents that will allow them to participate in the general elections scheduled for early next year.

According to the electoral commission, the presidential and parliamentary elections will take place between February 12 and March 1 next year.

It also said that nominations for parliamentary elections will take place on November 25 and 26, while the local council elections at district and municipal council levels will be held on November 4 and 5.

Opposition groups have often rejected previous election results, accusing the electoral commission of biased towards President Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM) party – a charge supporters of the ruling party sharply deny.

The opposition parties have also accused the government of incessant intimidation and harassment in the run up to elections, charges supporters of the ruling party say are bogus and without merit.

Opposition figure Kasunu said that the prevailing conditions make it impossible for the elections to be free and fair.

“One interesting thing that the outside world has not taken keen of this government is that it has fed us on lies. Many of our people have been fed on lies for so many years. So, for me I didn’t (commit) any crime when I put the record right,” Kasunu said.

Meanwhile, the electoral commission says it recently concluded a countrywide voter update exercise where a provisional number of 4,718,829 were captured in addition to the 10.5 million voters registered for the last elections in 2006.