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Ugandan President’s Achievements Challenged

  • James Butty

Uganda's main opposition leader, Dr. Kiiza Besigye, addresses his supporters at Masaka Lyantonde, about 200 kms west of Kampala capital Uganda. Saturday, Nov. 6, 2010
The leader of Uganda’s opposition Forum for Democratic Change said he will not participate in any future elections organized by President Yoweri Museveni unless fundamental changes are made in the country’s electoral laws.

Kizza Besigye said such changes must include creation of an independent electoral commission.

In a nationwide speech Thursday, Museveni accused Besigye of attempting to overthrow the constitution by organizing daily protest marches.

Besigye said the president’s speech was full of exaggeration of his achievements following 26 years in power and short on plans to address Uganda’s current economic and political problems.

“From what I have read, because I’m not in Uganda at the moment, but from what I have read, it was exactly as expected; it was just an exaggeration of his achievements of his 26-year rule; it was blaming everybody except himself for the failures, and insulting his opponents, and it was very short on what plans he has to address the grave challenges that the country faces today,” he said.

In his State of the Nation address last year, Museveni promised to review the salaries of public servants. But, in Thursday’s speech, he said those clamoring for salary increases should forget about it. He said priority would be given to roads and scientists.

Besigye said civil service salary increases was not the only promise that the president failed to fulfill.

“Apart from promising better payment for public servants, he has more importantly made promises for investing in agriculture in Uganda, which is the biggest employer of Uganda,” Besigye said.

He said Museveni also failed to address rampant corruption and how he hopes to reduce the country’s “grotesque cost” of public administration. Instead, Besigye said Museveni was creating new districts every day and hiring old political failures as part of a political patronage.

In his address, Museveni castigated the opposition accusing Besigye of using his “Walk-to-Work” protest as an attempt to overthrow the constitution and scare away tourists.

Besigye said Ugandans have been protesting against the country’s high unemployment and not because he Besigye told them to do so.

“The point is that the protests would be completely ineffective if they were not popular. What makes them popular is that people have actual grievances that have made them turn out in large numbers. And so, the problem cannot be myself, the problem must be the grievances over which the people are protesting,” Besigye said.

Besigye said he will not participate in any future elections organized by Museveni unless fundamental changes are made in the country’s electoral laws.

“We are not looking at any other election organized by the chief election thief, Mr. Museveni. I will certainly not participate in any election organized in the same way as the rigged elections that I have participated in. That’s why we must demand by ways available to us fundamental reforms in the electoral processes,” he said.

He said Uganda needs an independent electoral commission that is not a servant of a candidate and elections that are not violated by the military and security institutions.