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Ugandan Opposition Sees ‘Flawed’ Election Next Year Likely

  • Peter Clottey

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, left, being interviewed by a journalist, after he was nominated to run for presidential elections; Forum for Democratic Change’s Dr. Kizza Besigye after being nominated for presidential elections in the capital city Kampa

The leader of Uganda’s main opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) told VOA there are strong indications the government will “inherently” rig next year’s general election despite what he described as citizen disaffection with President Yoweri Museveni’s “poor performing” administration.

Doctor Kizza Besigye said the government has repeatedly refused calls for an overhaul of both the electoral commission and the voter list ahead of the scheduled February election.

“As we enter this current election, it is clear that the election will be flawed and, in such an environment, it is not possible to predict what will happen. Certainly, we do not know to what extent the next election will be rigged,” said Besigye.

“We know for sure that we have a voters’ register which is not credible at all. We have a number of registered voters put at more than 15 million voters. So, we have another hugely inflated voters’ register, which is normally the beginning of the rigging process.”

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

Besigye said it will be impossible to know who wins next year’s election since, in his words, the vote will be massively rigged in favor of the ruling party.

“The fact (is) that we have an electoral commission that is not independent and cannot be independent because it is an electoral commission that served entirely at the pleasure of one of the candidates. If one of the candidates tomorrow wakes up and decided to dismiss the entire electoral commission, he has the power to do so under the law without consulting anybody.”

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 2011 vote.