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Besigye Rejects Museveni’s Rule

21 February 2011 21 February 2011 Tags: 3 Comments Print This Post Print This Post

By Ann Garrison

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest: And this is KPFA/KPFB in Berkeley, or KFCF, 88.1 in Fresno. The program is the Weekend News; I’m Anthony Fest with David Landau. Turning now to news from Africa, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for the past 25 years, with military, diplomatic, and intelligence support from the United States. He officially claimed victory in Uganda’s presidential election this morning, but opposition parties and election observers claimed widespread election fraud. KPFA‘s Ann Garrison has more.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni entered his 26th year in power, after claiming victory, on 02.20.2011, in yet another presidential election that opposition parties declared fraudulent.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: In his introduction to a recent interview with Ugandan President Yoweri Musveni, Aljazeera host Hamid Arou said that Museveni had joined the League of African Rulers whose only wish is to stay in power forever. In conversation with Museveni, the Aljazeera host asked whether he would ever consider retiring, and criticized his extreme concentration of power, in his own hands.

Aljazeera’s Talk to Jazeera Host Hamid Arou: Mr. President, your National Resistance Movement Party is run like a one man show, not an institution. You are the NRM and without you, some say, it’s the end of the party.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni: Oh, they must be sick, because NRM has got nine million members now. Many of the things they do, I don’t even know. So anybody who said that I’m running that huge organization alone must be sick in his head or her head.

KPFA: Opposition presidential candidate Dr. Kizza Besigye and the Democracy Group, a non-partisan election monitoring team, were collecting their own election poll tallies after Ugandans went to the polls on Friday, so as to publish their own results, but Museveni’s Communications Commission made that impossible by ordering telecom companies to jam their SMS message reception. Besigye, his party and other members of the opposition categorically rejected the election results, and denounced the National Electoral Commission which Museveni selected himself.

They also accused Museveni and his party of ballot stuffing, unsealed ballot boxes, voter intimidation by the army, flagrant vote buying, and using state resources to win. Commonwealth observers observed the same irregularities.

Commonwealth election observers spokesman: The power of incumbency in this general election, and during the campaign leading to it, was exercised to such an extent as to compromise severely the level playing field between the competing candidates and political parties.

Dr. Kizza Besigye has rejected the authority of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni established by the 02.20.2011 election, because, he claims, it was fraudulent.

KPFA: Poverty, especially among Uganda’s majority subsistence farmers, was the opposition’s central issue, but, poverty also made Ugandans vulnerable to widely reported, flagrant vote buying by the ruling party. Dr. Kizza Besigye urged hungry Ugandans to take the money, then vote against the thieves who gave it to them, but Job Collins, who ran for Youth Member of Parliament in Uganda’s Northern Region, and other members of the opposition said that many impoverished Ugandans feel too disempowered to defy the authority of those who paid for their votes.

Speaking to the press, Besigye said that the opposition rejected not only the election results but also any legal authority based on them:

Dr. Kizza Besigye: We have rejected the outcome of this election. We are rejecting the leadership that emerges out of this sham election. And we are going to take steps, in consultation with the various people we have pointed out, all the stakeholders in our country, including the public as to the means we are going to use to bring the country back to Constitutional rule.

KPFA: Africa peace and justice activists in the U.S. have stepped up their calls for the U.S. to stop supporting both the Museveni regime and the Rwandan regime of Paul Kagame since the October 1st release of the UN Mapping Report documenting their armies’ war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

San Francisco writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, Colored Opinions, Black Star News, the Newsline EA (East Africa) and her own blog, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, Weekend News on KPFA and her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.

3 Comments »

  • Timothy Nabaasa said:

    One needs to dispel the notion that in Uganda one can be bribed to vote; indeed if you don't like the candidate you can 'TAKE THE MONEY AND VOTE AGAINST THE THIEVES'(see comment above) as it is a secret ballot.

    And the Observers comments don't reflect your post that there was widespread electoral fraud; they only pointed out some weaknesses as expected anywhere in the world, especially young democracies.

    Uganda is a very free and independent environment and one needs to live here, even for a few weeks, to understand this. Claims of intimidation are therefore unjustified and made by those with a particular political agenda.

  • Ann_Garrison said:

    @Timothy: Which observers are you talking about?

  • Ann_Garrison said:

    @Timothy:

    Here's the Commonwealth election observers team, quoted by Down Jones Newswire, hardly a radical source:

    "KAMPALA, Uganda -(Dow Jones)- Commonwealth election observers said Sunday that Uganda's Friday presidential polls largely favored the incumbent and were marred by a number of irregularities, including voter bribery and inconsistencies in vote tallying.

    The head of the Commonwealth Observer Group, Dame Billie Miller told reporters in Kampala that there was lack of a level playing field, use of money and the abuse of the incumbency during the campaign period.

    "The money factor and widespread allegations of bribery and other subtle forms of buying allegiance were key features of the political campaign," she said. " By all accounts, the 2011 elections were Uganda's most expensive ever."

    The same remarks are available in video form. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ9x_kuWlvQ

    I believe you must be confusing the Commonwealth's observations with those of IGAD and EAC.

    The Commonwealth observers objections were also reported in The Daily Nation and republished on AllAfrica.com: http://allafrica.com/stories/201102210446.html.

    As to my needing to live there, to understand that "Uganda is a very free and independent environment," I'm sure there are many things I would understand by living there, even for a few weeks, but:

    1) If I lived there, would the opposition, or the Commonwealth observers, have reported this differently? Would they have reported fewer irregularities?

    I can't imagine they'd have been affected by my presence in the least.

    2) Would Dr. Kizza Besigye have accepted the results, simply because I was there?

    I can't imagine that either.

    3) Would poverty not have been a reality in Uganda, and would it not have ben a central issue in the opposition parties' campaigns?

    Obviously not.

    4) If I lived there, would Job Collins, candidate for Youth MP in Uganda's Northern Region, not have told me that many Ugandans feel too disempowered to flout the authority of those who paid for their votes, to take the money and "vote against the thieves"?

    That is what Job Collins told me, as did others, just as Dr. Kizza Besigye said, on NTVUganda, "Eat it and vote against the thieves."

    5) If I had been there, would the UN Mapping Report released on Ocober 1st, documenting Uganda and Rwanda's war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, not exist?

    Nothing I reported would have been any more or less true if I lived there, even for a few weeks.

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