Ugandan opposition parties demand electoral reforms

The opposition parties said a new commission must be constituted on the basis of a new modality agreed upon by all stakeholders.

The opposition parties said a new commission must be constituted on the basis of a new modality agreed upon by all stakeholders.

By Halima Athumani

KAMPALA - Uganda`s opposition political parties and civil society organizations on Monday joined hands to call for free and fair elections in the country, underlining the need for a new electoral management system before the 2016 presidential vote.

"We are coming towards 2016 and we are saying we want electoral reforms," former ethics and integrity minister Miria Matembe, an opposition activist, told Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the launch of the Basket of Demands for Free and Fair Elections NOW.

"The previous elections had been rigged," she said, citing bribes, intimidation and police harassment.

The opposition Forum for Democratic Change, the Uganda People’s Congress, the Conservative Party, the Democratic Party and the Justice Forum joined hands to call for a new, independent and impartial Electoral Commission.

They insisted that the current commission was an integral part of the electoral rigging machine of the ruling National Resistance Movement regime.

The opposition parties said a new commission must be constituted on the basis of a new modality agreed upon by all stakeholders.

They also demanded a new voter’s register in order to ensure free and fair elections.

The parties said there should be no involvement of security forces in the electoral process and the role of police should be strictly to ensure public order.

They wanted a control and monitoring mechanism to prevent the NRM and President Yoweri Museveni from allegedly using public funds to finance the NRM campaigns and buy votes.

Other demands included the demarcation of electoral boundaries and freedom of assembly. Currently opposition political parties are not allowed to assemble and their activities are routinely blocked.

Enough

Matembe, the former minister, accused President Museveni of being the "biggest rigger."

She recalled that he had gone to the bush in 1980 protesting the rigging of elections by the Milton Obote regime.

"He chose the uncivilized way and went to the bush and fought. Thousands of people had died," said the opposition activist.

"When he arrived here we embraced him thinking that he was going to do away with rigging of elections," she recalled. "Look now he is the biggest rigger."

Matembe accused President Museveni of preventing the opposition from mobilizing and talking and using police to instill violence and fear.

On Sunday, the ruling National Resistance Movement caucus meeting endorsed President Museveni to stand unopposed for the 2016 elections.

The 2016 polls would be the fifth such election organized under Museveni’s regime in five yearly intervals since the NRM came into power in 1986.

"We are saying look here, 51 years down the road of independence, enough is enough," said Matembe. "We are tired. Ugandans are tired."

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