Opposition alleges massive rigging, may call for protests

For the third time, incumbent Yoweri Museveni’s main rival, Dr. Kizze Besigye, has alleged massive rigging during the presidential elections that occurred on Friday.

Besigye, who during the campaigns had threatened to call mass protests if the election is rigged, alluded to “people power” like in Tunisia and Egypt as the only option left to end what he termed as Museveni dictatorial rule.

Provision results announced by the Electoral Commission (EC) at 4.30pm showed Museveni leading with 2.9 million votes. Besigye was a trailing behind him with 900,000 votes. Full results are expected late to night.

Besigye said there was massive rigging through vote-buying, stuffing of ballot boxes with pre-ticked ballots, intimidation of voters and opposition polling agents were forced out of polling stations.

“What we’ve seen is not credible. It’s now clear the will of the people can’t be expressed through an election in this corrupt system,” he said. “The people are sovereign. They have the ultimate power.”

Besigye who vied on the Inter-Party Cooperation ticket, a coalition of four parties that came together to field as their presidential candidates, joined Olara Otuunu, another presidential candidate who earlier in the day described the election as “a sham” and rejected the result.

He cited the deployment of hundreds of soldiers and police into streets as a deliberate effort to instil fear and intimidate voters.

“Everyone with ears will have heard the jet fighters and military helicopters hovering overhead. Local council officials and security agents have been threatening people with war if Museveni does not win this election,” Besigye said at a press conference at the Forum for Democratic Change party offices.

He said polling stations opened late in opposition strongholds, including Kampala, saying “it happened in such a widespread fashion in order to suppress voter turn out where the opposition stood to win.”

Besigye said he is set to meet officials of the coalition (IPC) tomorrow (Sunday) morning, where the next course of action will be decided; adding he will not go to court since the judiciary “is a victim of the same corrupt and repressive environment.”

Uganda opposition started protesting even before the election for Uganda’s presidential poll was announced, describing the exercising in which incumbent Yoweri Museveni is seeking to extend his 25 year rule to 30 years as a sham.

Otuunu, who described the election as a sham and rejected it results, said the country was ripe for Tunisia and Egyptian-like protests that ousted Presidents Ben Ali and Hosin Barrack respectively.

“The election was a sham with absolutely no meaning. Like we have said before, it was not free and fair characterized by fraud and malpractices” Dr Otuunu told a news conference a day after polling on Saturday.

“It is up to Ugandans to chose whether they will submit to Museveni’s subjugation and political slavery in which the country is governed to his term or not and rise up to be governed to their terms. Under natural law and the constitution Ugandans will be exercising their rights to protest like it was in Tunisia and Egypt,” said Otuunu.

On the eve of the polls, President Museveni warned Ugandans not to engage in any acts of demonstration saying “the Tunisia and Egypt like popular protests can’t happen in Uganda.”

Asked what will done if it happened, Museveni told journalists that “we will round them up and lock them up in the most humane way.”

Hundreds of soldiers and police officers have been deployed in Kampala, where they are conducting patrols day and night. Key opposition figures have said the soldiers were intimidating voters.

There were some reported incidences of violence and rigging during yesterday’s elections. The Red Cross said two people were killed and dozens others injured as rival groups clashed, but police denied knowledge of the incidents.

Army spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Felix Kulayigye said police had requested help to keep the peace. However, soldiers did not go near polling centres.

“As you know, there’s the threat of terrorism. And when night comes, you can’t know what can happen,” he told reporters.