Uganda Elections 2006: Waiting for Besigye's Plan B
2006 Presidential Election petition: Is it enough to turn Besigye a true statesman?
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First published: March 28, 2006
Besigye accuses the Electoral Commission of declaring President Yoweri Museveni winner of Presidential Elections on February 25 without declaration of results forms as required by law, in addition to fraud during the campaigns and polling day among others. He also accuses Museveni of involving in electoral malpractices.
But the acting Director of Civil Litigation, Joseph Masitko while submitting on behalf of the Electoral Commission prayed Court to dismiss the petition because the petitioner (Besigye) has no evidence to support his petition.
Although President Yoweri Museveni and the Electoral Commission deny that there was fraud in the February 23 polls, Besigye insists that he has enough evidence to back his petition. He said shortly after the polls that he was sure of being President in May. Besigye said that according to the poll results, nobody clocked the 50 percent mark required for anyone to be declared President. He said this would necessitate a re-run. His claims are supported by an affidavit sworn in by Dr Jonathan Odwee, a senior lecturer of statistics at Makerere University.
According to Odwee, President Museveni scored 48.8 percent of the vote while Besigye-his close challenger received 47.8 percent of the vote. Odwee based his calculations on 38.8 % of the valid votes for which Besigye has declaration forms.
By April 5, the Supreme Court is expected to deliver a ruling on the petition. However, the debate over whether Besigye, as a statesman, should have gone to court or not continues as the petition hearing also progresses. That leaves people asking whether Besigye's action makes him a true statesman or not.
Some National Resistance Movement (NRM) sympathizers have referred to Besigye as a 'bad loser'.
To them, Besigye should have done like other candidates, such as Abedi Bwanika (who even swore an affidavit that the polls were free and fair), Democratic Party's Ssebana Kizito (who said that he accepted defeat 'for the sake of peace') and Uganda People's Congress' Miria Obote (who was happy that she completed the election campaigns). For such people, that is when they would consider Besigye a statesman.
However, there are those NRM supporters who say that although Besigye should have accepted defeat, shook hands with President Museveni for becoming the victor, they are also happy that Besigye used legal means (Courts of Law) other than resorting to war.
There was fear that between Besigye and Museveni, the loser may end up bringing about chaos in the country since to some people, it was not possible for them to live together in Uganda. The fear is still there since people do not know up to now what Besigye referred to as Plan B. Indeed, there are 'rumors' that some Besigye supporters were asking him to command them to start war only to hear him calling for calm on the day he contested the polls as he planned the next move (Court).
Besigye at Court
Although going to Court would be seen as a honorable thing, some people 'do not see' any sense in Besigye going to Court.
In 2001, when Dr. Besigye went to court to challenge the outcome of the presidential elections, some people said that Besigye had no case 'since the elections were free and fair'. In its ruling on the 2001 petition, the Supreme Court ruled that although there was rigging in the polls, it was not enough to call for the nullification of the polls.
Besigye, in response to the ruling, said that he 'respected' the ruling of the Court (but did not accept the ruling) in which 2 out of 5 judges said that there was need for nullification of the polls.
This time round, Besigye said he has decided to subject the poll results to the same process, only that this time (according to Besigye), they want to show how the irregularities contributed to President Museveni being the winner of the polls. Although Besigye said in the petition that he wants the election nullified, he has also been saying at different forums that his main intention is to expose the rot in the electoral process (probably to make it harder for the incumbent to go through in the 2011 polls).
But is that enough to make him a true statesman? What if he loses again? Would that not take away the support he has gathered? That is why some people are saying that if Besigye truly believes in what he is saying, he should also immediately embark on building structures for the 2011.
Besigye still needs to put forward a formidable election machine and face Museveni again at the age of 67 (since Museveni will still be eligible to vote thanks to the lifting of term limits for the President) and hopefully wrestle power from him in case there is no better Ugandan at that time. Kenya's President, Mwai Kibaki could be facing problems in Kenya, but he did not lose hope in his quest to be president despite losing twice. Kibaki won on his third attempt.
To be a statesman and not warlord, some people argue, Besigye should also forge unity among opposition parties and broaden the base of their supporters beyond what the entire opposition votes put together achieved this year (about 40 percent).
As a future possible president and good statesman, Besigye should continue the court battle to its conclusion and go ahead to put structures in place that will eliminate rigging in the next five years in addition to building a formidable party that is possible in FDC.
As for now, it is not easy to say whether Besigye is a true statesman because he still has a big task ahead of him to accomplish- convincing people that what he is doing is for the good of the country and that he is not just being opportunistic.
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First published: March 28, 2006
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.