Saturday, May 15, 2010

Leaders of the Inter – Party Cooperation (IPC) should avoid meeting Kabaka Mutebi

Politicians should be well aware that part of the problem between the Central Government and Buganda establishment is the politicians wanting and also using Buganda establishment as a ladder to achieve their ends. Given that background, the IPC leadership should avoid meeting Kabaka Mutebi. It is true that Kabaka Mutebi is not expected to endorse support to a political organization that his subjects should vote for. The Kabaka has one vote, the votes are with the Ugandans to whom the IPC should be able to reach and convince. The IPC has not performed well in the by – elections as they have not demonstrated the practicability of the cooperation. It is this type of organization that can promote the cooperation. By this time, the IPC would be trying to sort candidates for various electoral positions; this is the most difficult task. Even if it is possible to get the position of President; the opposition needs majority seats in Parliament to make impact legislation. We look forward to IPC heeding to advice. IPC now has a problem with DP candidates which need to be sorted. DP’s wish to cooperate at other levels and not the Presidency does not make good sense. The IPC has to decide whether to put candidates to stand with those of the Democratic Party.

William Kituuka

America monitoring Museveni - Source:
Tuesday, 16 February 2010 19:10 By Joseph Were
The road ahead was straight smooth tarmac. Visibility was clear as the sunny day had not yet given way to darkness. Hoping to hurry passed the truck in front which was moving way too slowly, the driver signalled that he needed to overtake. Overtake; the driver ahead signalled back and whish, the car started to overtake – then wham – the truck ahead of the one being overtaken swung to block them suddenly. The driver swerved in the opposite direction to avoid a collision. But the car ahead swerved again to their side of the road. Their car was pushed off the road and into the bush, barely missing to hit a tree. It stopped.
Within seconds, they were surrounded by men in Uganda army uniform. Some were shouting: “Otunnu, Otunnu.” Everyone sensed danger. How did this mob know Otunnu was in the car?
“Who is in charge here?” Otunnu asked. One man stepped forward. “What is your name sir, you almost got us killed.” No response. Quick; get the truck number plates. No number plates on all trucks. Why? More questions and no answers; except for menacing noises and threats. Then as quickly as it had descended upon them, the mob melted away into the trucks and slithered off.
The man in the car was Olara Otunnu, a former United Nations Undersecretary General. He had just returned to Uganda after 23 years in exile and has intentions to be a presidential candidate on the Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party ticket in the 2011 elections. The trucks that pushed his car off the road belong to President Yoweri Museveni’s special protection unit, the Presidential Guard Brigade (PGB). Otunnu was driving to Kampala from Gulu on Dec. 21, 2009 when the incident happened.
Was it a ruse to lure him into an assassination disguised as an “accident”? After all, fatal accidents happen everyday on Ugandan roads.
Later during The Voice of America’s “Straight Talk Africa” programme on Jan. 13 Otunnu said: “There is no doubt in my mind that it was an attempted assassination”.
Now, a report in the Black Star News of New York says an influential U.S. Senator has called for an investigation into the “suspicious” incident.

The Congress’s directive
“The conference agreement provides $70,650,000 for assistance for Uganda. The conferees direct the Secretary of State to closely monitor preparations for the 2011 elections in Uganda, and to actively promote, in coordination with the European Union, Canada and other nations, the independence of the election commission; the need for an accurate and verifiable voter registry; the announcement and posting of results at the polling stations; the freedom of movement and assembly and a process free of intimidation; freedom of the media; and the security and protection of candidates. The conferees direct the Secretary of State to submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations not later than 90 days after enactment of this Act and every 120 days thereafter until 30 days after the elections, detailing actions taken by the Government of Uganda to address these concerns.”

“The Congress is aware of that incident and it has been brought to the attention of the Obama Administration,” Tim Rieser, a foreign policy staff member for Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee which funds U.S. foreign aid programmes, is quoted saying to BSN.
“Senator Leahy is concerned about it and believes it should be investigated.”
A US State Department spokesperson in a statement echoed Leahy’s position: “We are aware of the reports that in December Olara Otunnu was involved in a car accident that may have occurred under suspicious circumstances. We take allegations of any attempt at political intimidation very seriously and have been monitoring the situation closely.”
“While there are concerns about the progress of Uganda’s democratic development, we are working to support peaceful, free and fair elections in 2011,” added the State Department spokesperson. “Our Embassy in Kampala has been working diligently for many months in preparation for these elections and will continue to do so in the coming months.”
In an interview with BSN, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister for International Relations, Okello Oryem, denied that there was an assassination bid.
“I do not believe it was an attempted assassination,” he said. “The government of Uganda has no intention of assassinating Olara Otunnu or anybody else for that matter.”
He said the incident was already being investigated by the police.
“All those who hope to participate in the political process, be it Olara Otunnu or others, are attempting to make statements trying to create some advantage or gain publicity, heading into the 2011 election,” he said.
“We welcome the interest of the United States government and we welcome the interest of our friends around the world,” he added. “We have to be very careful about such statements.”
According to BSN, since President Obama’s Accra Speech last year, in which he called for a shift from one-man rule to democratic institutions in African countries, there’s been some shift in U.S.-Africa policy, and in the case of Uganda, a notable one.
The U.S. Congress has issued a directive as part of the 2010 Appropriations Bill calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to closely monitor the Uganda election, including the preparation, the independence of the Election Commission, the credibility and verifiability of the voter registry, posting of results at polling stations, freedom of movement and assembly, freedom of the media as well as the security of all candidates. What’s more, she’s to issue a report every four months and another 30 days after the election.
Rieser, the aide to Senator Leahy, told BSN that the incident involving Otunnu is illustrative of why the Congress included the directive calling for security and protection of candidates.
The American directive is not the first and only intervention from the donor community regarding the 2011 election in Uganda.
On Oct.27 last year the European Council, which comprises the heads of state or government of EU member states, at their meeting in Luxemburg issued a statement expressing concern over the elections.
It said: “The Council expresses its concern over September’s riots in Kampala and urges the Ugandan Government to resolve any political disputes through peaceful dialogue and democratic institutions. The Council also urges the Government to do its utmost to assure that there will be a level playing field in the run up to the general elections of 2011 and that these elections will be free, fair and transparent.”
Anna Wrange, the Political Affairs Counsellor at the Swedish Embassy in Kampala told The Independent that they were concerned about strengthening the independence of the Electoral Commission, adhere to international conventions and political party rights, improving training for polling staff, and improvements in the voter registration process basing on recommendation made after the 2006 elections by the Supreme Court and the EU Election Observation Mission.
“Even though free, fair and peaceful elections are not the only requisites for democratic governance, they are indispensible. Sweden is therefore prepared to support Uganda in the preparations and carrying out of free and fair elections in 2011,” she said.
Sweden is a member of the Deepening Democracy Programme (DDP), a joint initiative of the Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark that is financially promoting inter-party dialogue in Uganda.
Its model is Ghana, where an inter-party dialogue platform successfully helped establish free and fair elections, a peaceful change of power, and democratic reforms.
But on Feb.5 in Kampala, the Netherlands Institute of Multiparty Democracy successfully herded the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC), which is a grouping of opposition parties, into signing a Memorandum of Understanding that included the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). Together, they set up a new organisation called the Inter Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD). Its objectives include: “to promote and uphold the establishment of fair electoral laws, effective and independent electoral management bodies and a level-playing field in elections”.
If this objective is to be achieved, the current Electoral Commission of Badru Kiggundu, which has been accused of being partisan, would have to be disbanded.
However, President Museveni last November appeared to snub calls for an independent EC when he renewed the tenure of its commissioners. The only hope now is for the EC to be expanded to accommodate “independent” commissioners.
Meanwhile, pressure for free and fair elections appears to be mounting.
The American directive to Hillary Clinton is being seen among indications that America’s patience with the Museveni government is wearing thin.
“The Congress does not take sides in the election. It is up to the people of Uganda to decide who their president or representatives will be. But the United States does care that the electoral process is free and fair,” Rieser, Senator Leahy’s aide, told BSN.
Rieser said the Congressional directive was included because there is disappointment that the Ugandan government has not moved toward a multi-party democracy as many had hoped and expected.
“There was recognition that coming out of the disastrous Idi Amin and Milton Obote eras it would take some time for the country to recover and for democratic institutions to develop. But a long time has elapsed and people have become impatient,” he added.
“Senator Leahy has visited Uganda and he has seen the progress that has been made. As chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds U.S. foreign aid programs, he has supported many hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Uganda. But like others he wants real democracy to develop there. There is concern with reports that the government is limiting opportunities for political parties to organize.”
Rieser continued: “Congress wants to see the media able to broadcast and publish freely, political parties able to operate without harassment or threats, and the balloting to be free and fair. By signaling its interest and requiring the Secretary of State to regularly report on these matters, the Congress is saying that it intends to follow this process closely.”
When asked what would happen if the Secretary of State submitted a report showing shortcomings by the Uganda government in meeting the standards outlined in the directive, he said if there were credible evidence that the government was impeding the role of the media and political parties, then “we would convey those concerns” to the Ugandan government and the manner in which the election is conducted would have an impact on aid from the U.S.
The BSN has confirmed that Otunnu was a driving force behind the Congressional directive, which explains why the language is specifically tailored to address obstacles that opposition parties in Uganda have complained about in the past.
Otunnu is said to have met several times with key U.S. lawmakers and after several presentations was able to help shift direction of a rigid foreign policy establishment.
When asked about Otunnu’s involvement in securing the Congressional directive, however, the new U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Jerry P. Lanier said he had no indication or evidence that Otunnu gave information to Congress or it originated from him at all.
“I know that he has been in the [United] States for many years but I don’t know whether he was involved at all in this,” he said.
While some leaders of opposition parties are celebrating the “landmark” US intervention in Uganda’s politico-sphere, the government spokespersons say it will have “Zero impact”.
“The NRM has always been for a level-playing ground where all political parties have the same chances to compete,” said Okello Oryem , Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (International Relations).

"The resolution is historic. I am very optimistic that Uganda’s electoral process will begin to register change. Congress has given itself a big responsibility as custodian to Uganda. It must live up to its reputation as the most democratic assembly in the best democracy in the world. It has put America to the test and President Obama in particular on his speech in Accra, Ghana, which was a message to the rest of Africa. We are beginning to feel the accumulative effects of that resolution. Ugandans are beginning to have direct access to information and direct communication with the US because their plight is for the fist time going to be heard and listened to. Museveni is bewildered and embarrassed. Although I have not looked at him in the face, his body language speaks differently from his words.”

Salaam Musumba -FDC

Parties raise new voter register fears - Source:
Written by Shifa Mwesigye
Sunday, 02 May 2010 17:56
Opposition parties say the planned registration of new voters using the biometric system and maintaining the old photographic register at the same time may cause confusion in the national voters’ register.
Under their umbrella organisation, the Inter-Party Cooperation (IPC), the opposition says the exercise could produce two separate voters’ registers that can be manipulated by the ruling NRM party to rig next year’s elections.
Addressing a press briefing at Christ the King Church in Kampala last Friday, Patrick Mwondha, UPC National Treasurer, said that they were not sure where the loyalty of the German company that got the contract, lies.
Muhlbauer High Tech International was recently given the deal to issue national identity cards and register the said new 3.5 million voters, without going through the normal procurement process.
IPC leaders fear that the company may be influenced to register non-Ugandans and issue them with national identity cards.
“We warn the German Government and hope its company will not be misused by Museveni to rig the election,” Ken Lukyamuzi, the leader of CP, said.
FDC Vice President, Salaam Musumba, said that the NRM might take advantage of the exercise and register underage children from their yellow NRM party member books.
But the deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Joseph Biribonwa said that the opposition concerns are baseless. In a telephone interview on Friday, Biribonwa said that the Commission will register 3.5 million people who are not on the old voters’ register using the biometric method.
This, he said, will help to capture the photos of the voters which will be used in the registration process.
“As required by law, the voters’ register will be displayed nation-wide before elections. Even political parties will be given copies and they will have a chance to review them and say, ‘this person is underage, this one is a non-Uganda. So, the process is going to be very transparent.”
Lukyamuzi said opposition parties insist on electoral reforms. “We insist on the electoral reforms and reconstitution of the Electoral Commission to create a non-partisan election body.”
The IPC asked all Ugandans of voting age to go and register and also check their names on the old voters’ registrar to ascertain they have not been erased or pronounced dead.

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