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Uganda’s Electoral Commission Chairman Promises Fair Elections

The chairman of Uganda’s electoral commission has promised a credible general election on Friday.

“We are absolutely ready and prepared, and I am confident we shall have a free and fair election.”

Chairman Badru Kiggundu disputed reports of a grossly inflated national voters’ register to be used for the general elections. But a civil society consortium says the register includes the names of thousands of children and foreigners and some names of adult voters appear more than once.

“[The register] is not really a major factor as far as we are concerned,” said Kiggundu. “We have gone through a thorough, disciplined, critical analysis of our register...and we are very satisfied with what we have.”

There are eight presidential candidates, including the incumbent, Yoweri Museveni, who captured power in 1986 after a five-year guerrilla war. Mr. Museveni abolished term limits in 2005 and this year became East Africa’s longest-ever serving head of state, with 24 years in power.

Kiggundu also sought to allay fears that the practice of allowing some citizens to participate without voters’ card may be abused. He said Ugandan law allows voting by people whose names appear on the register but who do not have cards. In the same way, he said, those with cards but whose names do not appear on the register will also be allowed to vote.

The electoral commission chairman promised that results will be announced promptly as they come in from the polling stations. “We have tried to develop an electronic wireless results transmission system that should help in the delivery of the results.”

He dismissed opposition allegations of bias as mere speculation. “I am doing my best as a human being and I will continue to do my best under the circumstances and within the provisions of the law.”