Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Africa: Uganda's Elections
Tue, 22 Feb 2011 17:54:24 -0600
Tue, 22 Feb 2011 17:54:24 -0600
Philip J. Crowley
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Public Affairs
February 22, 2011
The United States applauds the people of Uganda for their participation in the February 18 presidential and parliamentary elections and congratulates President Yoweri Museveni on his reelection. The elections and campaign period were generally peaceful, but we note with concern the diversion of government resources for partisan campaigning and the heavy deployment of security forces on election day. We are also disappointed by the disorganization at polling stations and the absence of many registered voters’ names from the voter rolls, irregularities that could have been avoided by appointing an independent and more representative Electoral Commission.
Nevertheless, we urge all participants to abide by the official results, refrain from violence, and channel grievances through Uganda’s independent judiciary. Democracy requires commitment at all levels of government and society to the rule of law, freedom of speech and assembly, independent media, and active civil society. We urge the Ugandan government to undertake the electoral and administrative reforms that will substantially improve future elections and will strengthen the country's commitment to multiparty democracy and human rights for the next generation of Ugandan citizens.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Election News Round-Up
In a move to curtail the freedom of speech, the government has issued a directive to all mobile phone companies operating in Uganda to intercept key words like "Egypt", "People Power", and "Bullet" from all their short message services or SMS, Reuters News Agency has reported. An internal email from the state-run Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) with the order has also been leaked to the opposition coalition Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC) on Thursday.
According to Reuters, the head of UCC, Patrick Mwesigwa, confirmed the memo was genuine: "We had a meeting with content providers on Tuesday and we decided that a list of key words should not be transmitted,” he said. He added that, "Messages containing such words, when encountered by the network or facility owner or operator, should be scrutinised and, if deemed to be controversial or advanced to incite the public, should be stopped or blocked."
The other banned English words or phrases are: “Tunisia”, “Mubarak”, “dictator”, “teargas”, “army”, “police”, “gun”, “Ben Ali” and “UPDF”. Several words from Uganda’s local languages are listed too.
At his final election rally on Wednesday, Dr. Kizza Besigye warned that his supporters will take to the streets if the IPC concludes that the election have been rigged by the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM): “In the last two elections we were cheated and all the Supreme Court judges agreed with us but still failed do their duty (and) annul the election. We’re not going to the courts again. If our results don’t tally with those of the electoral commission, I will ask the people themselves to deal with the situation directly,” Besigye said.
President Yoweri Museveni has however threatened to arrest to Dr. Besigye if he asks his supporters to take to the streets to protest election theft.
The situation in Uganda is not rosy according to sources in Uganda.
In the Eastern part of the country, supporters of incumbent MP Nandala Mafabi have been involved in the running battles with UPDF soldiers in Buwalasi and Bumuddu areas in Budadiri West Mbale region. Soldiers in Mambas (armored vehicles) have taken over security in Sironko District. According to reliable source the raged crowd acting in an Egyptian style, they have managed to disarmed a UPDF soldier whilst other soldiers had to show their backs to the determined youthful group in order to spare their lives.
Reports in Mbale that the Chairman of the Parliamentary Publics Accounts Committee PAC and FDC MP Nandala Mafabi strong man who has been Museveni s enemy number one in the region sustained an injury, but we haven’t established the cause.
There is also report that a Ugandan journalist, Julius Odeke, has been in the leg by bodyguards of the Minister for the Presidency Beatrice Wabudeya. He is in hospital in critical condition.
A district police commander, in Sironko, Gerald Mbasa had to flee from the raged voters who were denied their Universal Human Rights to vote. The demanded to know why the police serve only supporters of the ruling party and for what reason it continues to harass the population aat Bugusege polling station.
Meanwhile, President Museveni's main challenger, Dr. Besigye found that his name was not on the voters register in his own locale.
Dr. Besigye was meant to be registered at Katenga Cell Municipal Stadium Polling Station. Instead he was advised to go to Rwakabengo Health Centre III Polling Station where he found his name and finally voted. Samuel Walter Lubega, and Dr. Abed Bwanika both independent presidential candidates, found that their names were missing on their respective voters registers.
Lubega meant to be voting at Rainbow II Polling Station in Kawempe, a Kampala suburb has been only allowed to vote by Electoral Commission officials at the polling station. When contacted, Lubega said that, “We will not accept the outcome of the election because there has been many things going around.”
“I have seen and witnessed very good examples not rumors; but my own eyes,” said Lubega.
Dr. Bwanika, also a presidential candidate, was turned away from his Butikirwa Polling Station and advised to go and vote in Bukoto II Parish in Nkurabiro Trading Centre. “This is like many genuine voters were deliberately left out. It can`t be an accident,” said Dr Bwanika. He attributed the mess to the late changes that were brought without notice by the Electoral Commission.
Strange but real, the police force that's meant to keep law and order has been engaged in alleged bribery. FDC supporters in an eastern town of Iganga, approximately 78 miles east of Kampala carried out citizens' arrest. Eight special police constables were earlier arrested and detained by FDC supporters for allegedly helping the ruling party NRM to bribe the voters.
Additionally, at Walugogo Estate in Iganga Municipal Council, police officers were offering sachets of salt, sugar and bars of soap and persuading them to vote for the incumbent. “As you have heard, it is real. Here people are being given a bar of soap, a kilo of salt and sugar, in return to vote for the incumbent,” a journalist at the scene told this reporter. “We are a very crazy situation, because all state operatives are trailing us. Please, all these phone conversation are being monitored.”
In what appears to be a coordinated move from above, Iganga District Police Commander Mr. David Manzi, told this reporter: “We are investigating the incident, but I have been informed that, the opposition supporters wanted to make the case and put those items on the police vehicle.” Mr. Manzi was insinuating that the civilians had planted evidence on the police.
A wife to NRM candidate has been arrested by police in Kumi District on allegations of bribing voters to vote for her husband.
A wife to an NRM candidate for Kumi County Mr. Julius Omute, has been found in possession of 14 cartons of salt, 6 boxes of laundry soap, 6 dozens of waragi --local gin-- that she has been using to lure voters.
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