8 Presidential Candidates Nominated in Uganda
By Paul Ndiho, Washington D.C.
October 27, 2010
Uganda’s electoral commission on Monday and Tuesday cleared eight candidates to run in next February’s presidential poll, including long-serving leader General Yoweri Museveni. The international community and Uganda’s opposition have criticized the Ugandan government for keeping in place an electoral commission that has allegedly failed to organize free and fair elections.
Security is very tight in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, as the parties launch their presidential campaigns. The nominations kicked off the official campaign period, a season that can be characterized by excitement, or marred by harassment of the opposition. Uganda’s President General Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled the East African Nation for over two decades, is running for the fourth time as the candidate of the ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM).
“Now that we have got Uganda out of so many problems and we are heading to the dry land having crossed a big ocean of problems, how can it be that any other group can be entrusted with this duty of concluding the emancipation and transformation of Uganda? That is why I told them and they all agreed unanimously that it must be the NRM.”
The election, which pits Mr. Museveni against his closest rival, Kizza Besigye, in the third face-off between the two, is seen as a test of democracy in a country about to start producing oil. Dr. Kizza Besigye is the leader of Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC), a coalition of four parties. President Museveni defeated Besigye in elections in 2001 and 2006 that were marred by accusations of widespread fraud. Besigye used the nomination ceremony to criticize Uganda’s last two elections, promising to fight corruption and to invest in agriculture.
“We believe that one can win an election even with a biased electoral commission. It’s far more difficult but it is not unattainable and it is what we are going to rally the entire population to do and if the unfairness continues and if the violation of our rights continue under their watch, we are going to be prepared to confront it, we do not believe to have our rights by permission, we believe to have them by right.”
Eight candidates have been cleared to run against General Museveni, but analysts say only Besigye has an outside chance of beating Museveni. The poll will be closely watched by the West for signs of repression.
Earlier this month, a United Nations report accused Mr. Museveni’s troops of committing massive human rights violations in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1993 and 2003. Uganda reacted angrily to the report and said the accusations were unfounded and that the report should not be taken seriously.