The opposition can decide to boycott the General Elections when they are convinced that things are not well. If Government deliberately refuses to print Voter cards for millions of people, it is not wrong for people who are now used to a cheating NRM to assume that this is a strategy to cheat. The reading on the wall is clear, 25 years in power, President Museveni is just trying to see that he remains in power, otherwise in eyes of people who think that this country can have a better future as currently there is no future worth mentioning, change is the way to go. Meseveni initially promised to be in power for 4 years, today, 25th January, it is exactly 25 years since his army captured power and has sine used tactics and tricks together with the army to see him continue as President, so when people come and complain that certain things are not right, they have a point. While people should be longing for a change, funny opinion polls show that he has over 60 which cannot be under normal circumstances.
The way leaders cling to power shows how many have failed to learn from history. Just on Tuesday 25th January 2011 I saw with my eyes youthful boys and girls who were from training at Bweya 8miles Entebbe Highway. Why does the NRM Government keep training such youths who are the most disadvantaged during its leadership? The formula used in getting these youth is not clear either. This is how dictators stay in power. They use machinery to threaten people, otherwise if Government was not having hidden agenda why would they expect people to be not to e peaceful? They now know that some unknown people may appear on polling stations and this type of youth should be ready to deal with them. Yes, because we are under developed and dominated by dictators, we at times have no choice but to resort to prayer.
God remember Uganda.
William Kituuka Kiwanuka
Opposition party FDC fails to block polls Tuesday, 25th January, 2011
By Andante Okanya
THE High Court in Kampala has dismissed a case filed by the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) seeking to compel the Electoral Commission (EC) to issue voting cards to about four million newly registered voters before next month’s general elections.
Court presided over by Justice Eldad Mwangushya dismissed the case on grounds that a voter’s card is not the only document that can be used to identify a voter.
“My understanding of these provisions regarding issuance and introduction of voters’ cards is that a voter’s card is one of the instruments by which a voter can be identified at a polling station but is not the only instrument,” Mwangushya said.
The FDC on December 22, 2010 petitioned the court to compel the EC to issue the cards before the February 18 elections.
The EC had announced in October last year that it would not issue the cards since the internal affairs ministry was about to issue national identity cards.
Through its lawyer, Wandera Ogalo, FDC argued that the EC’s decision to allow the four million people to vote without cards would lead to abuse of the electoral process.
If the court had ruled in favour of the FDC, it would have meant delaying the elections to enable the EC print and issue the cards to the millions of new voters who registered last year.
The case arose on December 22 last year after FDC filed an application for a judicial review against the EC’s decision.
But in his ruling, the judge agreed with the EC that any person, whose name appears in the register, would be allowed to vote.
He dismissed the claim by FDC vice-president Salaam Musumba that the four million voters risked being disenfranchised.
When court heard the application on January 12, Ogalo submitted that according to Section 35 of the amended Presidential Elections Act 2010, it is a mandatory duty for EC to print and issue voters’ cards.
But EC lawyer Christine Kahwa argued that even without a voter’s card, a voter can still be identified on the polling day using the new photographic register, as opposed to the old text register.
The judge said FDC’s fears were based on speculation and that all stakeholders were duty-bound to ensure that vices like ballot stuffing are avoided.
“I do not understand how this would disenfranchise voters who have not been issued with voters’ cards. They will be allowed to vote,” the judge said.
He, however, added the matters raised by FDC should be considered to contribute to the better management of the polls.
Speaking after the ruling, Ogalo expressed dismay at the court’s decision but ruled out an appeal.
Lukyamuzi said the court should have considered the imperfections that have marred the previous polls.
POLLS IN A CRISIS?
By Isaac Khisa
Posted Tuesday, January 25 2011 at 00:00
With barely three weeks left, opposition leaders yesterday demanded next month’s elections be postponed until voters’ cards are issued to more than four million newly-registered voters to avert a possible crisis.
The government, however, responded that “it is not possible to postpone the elections because voters’ cards are not a pre-condition to voting”.
Information Minister Kabakumba Masiko told this newspaper last evening that the EC drew a calendar of the election roadmap which is being adhered to.
“We have a clean and credible register and we as government are doing everything possible that the elections are free and fair,” said Ms Masiko, who accused the opposition of wanting to delay the elections and plunge the country into chaos.
The call for rescheduling was made during a joint press conference held at Kampala’s Christ the King Church premises, following a meeting earlier in the day with the Electoral Commission, at which the leaders warned that the “voters register is fatally flawed”.
There are 13.9 million voters according to the provisional register released by the EC which figure the opposition and other stakeholders have questioned for a country where 56 per cent of its 32 million people are recorded as being younger than 18, the threshold of adult voting age.
Dr Abed Bwanika of PDP, Mr Olara Otunnu of UPC, People’s Progressive Party candidate, Jaberi Bidandi Ssali and an Independent Sam Walter Lubega convened the press conference. They also proposed an emergency summit to be attended by all eight presidential candidates, religious leaders and civil society organisations before polling day to find a way forward.
“We are laying the case that if we go to the elections, will it make sense to the electorate? The summit will give all stakeholders an option. However, the best option we see now is to stretch this election so that the EC has good time to provide remedies,” said Dr Bwanika.
Dispelling talk of boycotting polls, he added: “This is because in Africa, boycotting elections cannot make sense. It will only be Dr Bwanika boycotting and not the people of Uganda. If the country slips into violence, my people will also be killed.”
The opposition leaders say absence of voters’ cards, proliferation of ghost polling stations, a bloated voters register, multiple registration, and with foreigners and under age voters preparing to participate, the elections won’t be free and fair.
Calls for a postponement come weeks after the FDC sued the electoral body, seeking a declaration compelling it to issue cards to newly-registered voters.
EC Secretary Sam Rwakoojo has contended that Section 35(3) of the amended Presidential Elections Act, 2010, provides for voting without the voters cards as long as one is able to prove to the polling officer or assistant that his or her name and photograph appear in the register. Hearing of the case continues.
In the meantime, FDC leader Kizza Besigye, and his compatriots in the opposition vow they will announce their own version of the results. The opposition, whose repeated demands for broad electoral reforms were ignored by government, is adamant that the EC is not impartial in the matter and cannot be trusted to return an impeccable result.
Dr Besigye has unsuccessfully contested the last two elections which the Supreme Court found were not conducted in accordance with the law, were marred by irregularities, including rigging, but that the rigging was insufficient to have a substantial effect on the final result.
EC Spokesman Charles Willy Ochola yesterday said: “We are doing this legally and we should be allowed to do (our work) instead of being pessimistic.” He emphasised that no voters cards will be issued within the three weeks left to the polling days.
But unless the proposed summit restores the confidence of all interested parties, the country faces the real possibility that the official results released by the EC could be rejected.
Dr Bwanika warned that “we do not want to see what happened in Kenya, in Rwanda, in Zimbabwe and now in Ivory Coast.”
Police chief, Maj. Gen. Kale Kayihura last week confirmed that they were investigating about 10 known vigilante groups. The Force has, however, repeatedly said that the crime preventers are being trained to help maintain law and order.
But the opposition says that these groups numbering 30 individuals per village were recruited from amongst ruling party sympathisers – a claim Ms Masiko denied.