Besigye Rejects Museveni’s Rule
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.
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.
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.