Uganda Elections 2006: Electoral Commission Allows Besigye's Nomination
Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye.

Uganda Elections 2006: Electoral Commission Allows Besigye's Nomination

Dr. Besigye can be nominated, but only in person. He is required to appear in Namboole stadium on Wednesday December 14, 2005 and be nominated, and not nomination papers to be taken to him in Luzira Prison for signing as his party had asked.

By Gerald Rulekere
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First published: December 13, 2005

Uganda’s leading opposition party, Forum for Democratic Change has vowed to take the government to Courts of Law if their jailed President, Col. Dr. Kizza Besigye is denied a chance to get nominated and contest for the national Presidency in the 2006 elections.

This follows a letter by the Attorney General, Prof. Kiddu Makubuya advising the government, and the Electoral Commission in particular, to stop the nomination of Dr. Besigye because he has been arrested for links with “serious crimes". The Attorney General, who is the government’s chief legal advisor, wrote a letter saying Dr. Besigye should not be nominated since he has been arrested for links with PRA and Kony rebels and he (Dr. Besigye) has refused to categorically renounce rebellion. Prof. Makubuya argues that although Besigye has denied any links with the rebels groups, it will be bad for the country if he is nominated and the Courts later find him guilty of the crimes of treason, misprision of treason and rape that Dr. Besigye is alleged to have committed.

Prof. Ogenga Latigo, FDC’s Deputy President says that Dr. Besigye cannot be stopped from contesting in elections since he hasn’t been convicted of any crime. He says they will sue the government if the advice of the Attorney General to stop Dr. Besigye from getting nominated is followed. Prof. Latigo says that they are going to do everything possible to ensure that Dr. Besigye is nominated as scheduled on December 14th 2005.

Prof. Latigo says the government is treating Dr. Besigye as if he is guilty before trying him, yet the national laws provide that everyone is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. He says that the cases against Dr. Besigye are fabricated and aimed at stopping him from contesting for the presidency.

There are worries that this twist of not allowing Dr. Besigye to be nominated is bound to make the already contentious political transition period more volatile and may divide the country in many ways than can be imagined.

One of Besigye’s lawyers, Yusuf Nsibambi on Saturday told an FDC rally at the Clock Tower in the Ugandan capital, Kampala that they were considering petitioning the High Court to stop nominations and elections if Dr. Besigye is not nominated.

FDC refuses to elect new presidential Candidate.

Despite pressure from the government and some of the members of FDC stemming from the unlikely timely release of Dr. Besigye, the party’s top brass has vowed not to name another Presidential candidate. According to an opinion poll by The New Vision, the government owned daily and leading newspaper in Uganda, if elections were held today, Dr. Besigye’s FDC would win by 42% of the vote followed by NRM (ruling government) with 33%, UPC 10%, Democratic party 9% and the rest of the parties sharing the remainder. All parties have however refused these figures, all including FDC, saying the poll underestimated their real support in the electorate.

Dr. Besigye’s bail more uncertain than ever.

Any hopes of Dr. Besigye being released even on bail were dashed Monday December 12, 2005 morning when High Court Judge Remmy Kasule ruled that Besigye’s bail application, including that in the Military Court Martial, will be decided after the Constitutional Court pronounces itself on the case.

Dr. Besigye’s lawyers petitioned the Constitutional Court asking it to clarify whether the Military Court Martial has jurisdiction to try Dr. Besigye since he is not an army officer and whether it is legal for Besigye to be tried in two different courts for crimes based on the same or related allegations.

Dr. Besigye was arrested and charged with Treason, Misprisions of Treason and Rape by the High Court. He is alleged to have raped Joanita Kyakuwa in 1997. Though this is a capital offence, it has not generated much attention partly because of the length of time the alleged victim has taken to report the alleged crime, and the fact that it was brought on the same day Dr. Besigye was being charged with treason.

The day when his bail application was heard and granted, the Military Court Martial based at Makindye, East of Kampala also charged him with terrorism and possession of illegal arms basing on the same charge sheets in the High Court. The Court Martial remanded Besigye and set Monday December 19th 2005 at 9:00am local time when his case will come up for mention.

Dr. Besigye due for trial in two different courts same day, same time.

However, the High Court today also announced that Dr. Besigye’s case of Treason, Misprision of treason and rape charges will be heard on Monday December 19, 2005 at 9:00am before Justice John Bosco Katiusi. It is not clear which Court Dr. Besigye will go to first on in which particular court he will be tried.

High Court Judge Remmy Kasule today re-stated his earlier halting of Besigye’s Trial in the Military Court Martial but the Military Court Martial chaired by Gen. Elly Tumwine says they have the same jurisdiction as the High Court and cannot therefore be ordered by the High Court. The Constitutional Court has however ruled that the Military Court Martial is a constituent Court of the High Court of Uganda.

Electoral Commission decides Besigye should be nominated in person.

The EC Secretary, Sam Rwakoojo says that after considering the advice given to the commission by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Prof. Kiddu Makubuya, and that given by Minister of State for Constitutional Affairs, Adolf Mwesigye, the EC has decided that Dr. Besigye can be nominated, but only in person. He is required to appear in Namboole stadium on Wednesday December 14, 2005 and be nominated, and not nomination papers to be taken to him in Luzira Prison for signing as his party had asked. It is not clear whether Dr. Besigye can or will be allowed by authorities to go and be nominated from Prison where he has been remanded by the Military Court Martial. The fact that two government ministers gave varying views on Besigye’s nomination has not helped matters.

Adolf Mwesigye wrote to the EC advising them that he did not see any problem with allowing Besigye to be nominated as a candidate in the 2006 elections since he has not been convicted of any crime and is not serving a sentence of any court in Uganda. Then, a few days later, Prof. Makubuya wrote to the Commission advising it not to allow Dr. Besigye to be nominated.

This is expected to have been a hard decision for the EC as there is equal pressure from the government, the opposition and the donor community on Dr. Besigye’s candidature in the forthcoming presidential elections with some sections insisting he should not be allowed to be nominated and others saying he must be nominated.

Government urged to respect rights of all.

Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of the Human Rights Network, Mohamed Ndifuna has called upon the government to fulfill its obligation to respect, protect, defend and promote the basic rights and freedoms of all the people of Uganda. He was speaking on Saturday at a function to mark the end of the international human rights week at the Constitutional Square in Kampala.

The human rights week in Uganda, which started on December 5th, was held under the theme “upholding human rights during the political transition”.

Ndifuna says that as Uganda transits from the movement to multi-party politics, many parts of the legal framework are not in line with the new political environment and are open to abuse.

He says there is strong patronage of institutions of the government to the extent that many of the institutions remain accountable to current regime rather than the democratic institutions of the government like Parliament and Courts of law.

He says many people’s rights and freedom have as a result been trampled upon and he called on the government to respect and to protect the rights of all Ugandans.

By Gerald Rulekere
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First published: December 13, 2005
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Gerald Rulekere is a Journalist and member of Ultimate Media Consult. He has written and published extensively on business and gender issues and been writing for Ultimate Media Consult (U) Ltd for the last two years. A professional and graduate journalist, Rulekere is always looking for an opportunity to better his writing especially for international media.