Uganda Elections 2006: Besigye's Statements in 2001
EC boss arrives at Supreme Court(2006).

Uganda Elections 2006: Besigye's Statements in 2001

In History: Excerpts from Besigye statement after the dismissal of his 2001 Petition.

On April 21, 2001, the Supreme Court dismissed Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye petition challenging the March 12, 2001 elections. The petition was filed on March 12.

By Gideon Munaabi
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First published: April 5, 2006

Below are some excerpts from his statement:
The Supreme Court has ruled on the petition I filed a month ago, challenging the results of the March 12, 2001 Presidential election. While we strongly disagree with the ruling of the court, we will respect it and abide by the constitution.

We have not won the legal case in the Supreme Court, but in the political consciousness of the Ugandan people, we have to draw the lines between right and wrong- we have won the case in the court of public opinion. The election results are now legal, but they will never be legitimate.

Why do we say the election is illegitimate? Because of the reasons we laid down in our petition: there were serious and massive irregularities, malpractices and crimes, which denied the Ugandan, people their right to a free and fair election. The people of this country deserve better.

Why we went to court
Just as you expect to either win or lose in an election, when you go to court, you hope to win but might lose the case. Why then did we go to court, knowing fully well that there was a possibility of not winning in legal terms?

  • We went to court because the election was massively stolen and mismanaged
  • We went to court to put what went wrong in the records of history, where that sad episode can be forgiven, but not forgotten.
  • We went to court to put the perpetrators of those grave injustices and incompetence to shame and to dare them to rig another election.
  • We went to court to give Ugandans the courage to resist injustice through democratic means.
  • We went to court to save the country from complete collapse of the electoral process.

    Gains and losses from the ruling
    With the ruling, Ugandans both lost and won. We lost the immediate opportunity of a re-run of the election. We lost the opportunity to implement our 5-year reform program between now and 2006. We also lost the important opportunity to realize the full potential of our judiciary in checking and balancing the balance of executive power.

    But through this ruling, we have won many achievements for this country. We have revealed the need to bring future election laws and election mismanagement into greater harmony with universally accepted democratic principles:

  • There should be less protection of those who rig elections and a fairer burden of proof ad litigation time for the victims of election rigging.
  • Those who support reform have learnt important lessons: in the search for voter support, you must vigilantly report and record every incident of wrongdoing. Every candidate for reform must prepare legally for a court case as part of the campaign process. Why? Because in the next five years, you will be led by a government that is legal, but not legitimate.

    Way forward:
    My vision for the next five years is contained in the manifesto that offered the people of Uganda during this last contest.

    It is this same vision for which I have stood firmly over the last twenty years of service as a fighter and commander in the resistance war, as a Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister, National Political Commissar, Constituent Assembly Delegate and as a member of the Army High Command.

    It is a vision for a Uganda in which we:

  • Resolve political contentious issues in the constitution
  • Respect freedom of speech and political association and the right to oppose the government constitutionally;
  • Pursue a peaceful end to wars and rebellions;
  • Pursue peaceful relations with neighboring countries;
  • Do not tolerate corruption by public officials as de facto presidential policy;
  • Focus the energies and resources of the government on economic growth and development, the incomes and welfare of the ordinary people, the provision of social services and infrastructure and the interests of vulnerable groups including the women, the youth and the aged.

    I remain firmly committed to this program of reform and to the struggle of our people to restore the right to choose or reject this vision without undemocratic constraints.

    In leading a way forward to the implementation of our program, I will raise the prominence of two key issues in the months and years ahead: Freedom of political association, organization of grassroots political activity; and the right to a free and fair election.

    Future elections should be held on a level playing field in terms of organizational support, campaign time, financial resources and media coverage.

    My taskforce and I are carrying out wide consultations with our allies and supporters on the political and organizational methods we shall employ. We will employ democratic methods but we intend to be a potent force.

    To President Yoweri Museveni and his government, our message is:

  • Learn the lessons of this election and learn the lessons of this court case.
  • Respect the rights of people who do not agree with you
  • Open up space for organized political activity by groups other than your own.
  • Appoint a competent Electoral Commission
  • We are ready to enter dialogue with you and your government about how to undertake the necessary reforms to move the country forward.
  • Should you choose the path of repression, you will face stiff resistance.

    To the millions of Ugandans who supported us: especially those who were threatened, to the families of those who lost their lives during the election, your sacrifice and support was not in vain. You made you contribution to a better Uganda. The struggle continues. I salute you.

  • By Gideon Munaabi
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    First published: April 5, 2006
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    Gideon Munaabi is a journalist and public relations practitioner with Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd. He has been and continues writing widely for different publication locally and internationally. He is a founding member of Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd and is currently the chairman of the organisation.