Uganda Elections 2006: Tricky Times for Candidates

Uganda Elections 2006: Tricky Times for Candidates

Opposition wants more time.

By Gerald Rulekere
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First published: December 19, 2005

Monday, December 19th, 2005
After today’s meeting between the Electoral Commission and the six Presidential candidates, opposition candidates in the 2006 elections have blamed the Electoral Commission for playing in favour of the incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni.

Independent candidate Dr. Chris Bwanika says by setting the election date on 23rd February, the Electoral Commission is denying the opposition candidates enough time to traverse the country and campaign.

“President Yoweri Museveni has been going around the country on tax payers money, campaigning. Now for us we have only two month to start and go through the whole country on limited funds. It is not fair. The EC should extend the election date to March 12 2005,” Bwanika told Journalists after the meeting.

The Vice President of the Forum for Democratic Change, Salaam Musumba who represented the party at today’s meeting echoed the same concerns, given the fact that their Presidential candidate, Rtd. Col. Dr. Kiiza Besigye may have to be reporting to court in some days, that is if he is ever released on bail.

Dr. Besigye appeared in Court before Justice John Bosco Katusi on Monday December 19, 2005 and the case of Treason he is alleged to have committed will come again for mention on January 5th 2006. He will however appear in Court to answer the case of alleged rape on January 2nd 2006.

Dr. Besigye who was supposed to appear in the military Court Martial at the same time did not show up there and it is not clear how his case will go on in the Court Martial, which is still holding on remand after the High Court granted him bail.

The Presidential candidates have all been given vehicles for their campaigns. The vehicles will be driven by Electoral Commission Appointed chauffeurs, a move that has had some of the candidates complaining.

The other issue candidates in Presidential and parliamentary elections are facing has to do with whether or not a member of a political party should stand for election as an independent candidate. Al Hajji Nassar NTege Ssebaggala has been threatened with suspension form the Democratic Party for deciding to stand as an independent candidate.

Democratic Party President, John Ssebaana Kizito on Saturday warned Haji Nassar Ntege Ssebaggala against using the Democratic party colours and slogans during campaigns.

Ssebaana who is standing for the national presidential seat with Ssebaggala says the party will sue Ssebaggala if he goes ahead to use DP colours of Green and White and the party motto in his campaigns.

Ssebaana told Journalists at the party’s campaign office in Kabusu, Kampala on Saturday that Ssebaggala has gone against the party constitution by deciding to stand as an independent candidate after being defeated in the party primary elections.

The issue of members of political parties standing as independents continues to raise controversy in all political parties with President Yoweri Museveni recently saying his NRM will suspend whoever stands as an independent candidate.

However, many members of political parties have vowed to contest as independents. For example, ministers who were defeated in the recently concluded NRM party primary elections met on Thursday in a meeting chaired by Samson Mayende (Minister of State for Higher Education) and the majority agreed to go ahead and compete as MPs in their constituencies despite the president’s directive.

Public Servants warned on partisan politics

Many of the candidates will have to do their campaigns without the legal active support of civil servants. The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Vincent Sekono has warned public servants in the local governments (districts) to desist from engaging in partisan politics following the launch of campaigns for the 2006 elections.

Sekono was on Saturday speaking during a workshop for urban local authorities at Hotel Equatoria in Kampala.

He says that all local government public servants should demonstrate utmost neutrality in the coming elections and ensure that the political ground is level for all those competing in elections. Sekono says public servants are required by law to remain non- partisan and to promote the rights and freedom of all Ugandans through their service.

He also warns public servants against implementing politically motivated policies as passed by Local Councils, since the law will punish the public servants as implementers in case the policies are partisan and abuse rights of some Ugandans.

Army promises not to be partisan

The Chief of Uganda People’s Defense Forces has said that all members of security agencies are going to remain neutral in the elections. He says that no member of the armed forces is supposed to hold a party card or campaign for a political party

Meanwhile, Bwanika has said he has the best manifesto to lead Uganda out of the persistent poverty that is affecting the majority of Ugandans.

In an interview with Ultimate Media on Saturday, Bwanika who is standing as an independent candidate said that his candidature is centered on development issues.

Bwanika says that while some of the Presidential candidates are promising to get Ugandans jobs abroad, he wants to make Uganda a global work station where a lot of work for other countries is done in Uganda thereby generating employment.

Bwanika who says he will officially launch his campaign on Tuesday in Rakai says that if elected President, he will spend a bigger percentage of the national budget on Agriculture, which employs more than 80 percent of Ugandans.

He says this will make Uganda a global food basket. Bwanika says he will also make Uganda a global tourist centre and enable Uganda to take advantage of being in the middle of the Great lakes Region by making the country the hub of economic activity supplying mostly demanded goods and services in the region. Dr. Bwanika holds a Masters degree in veterinary medicine and has been a lecturer at Makerere University. He left last year and started his own consultancy farm. He is also a pastor.

We shall be bringing you summarised manifestos and profiles of the other candidates.

By Gerald Rulekere
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First published: December 19, 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.